History-maker Malan steers Middlesex to quarter finals

By James Callow DAWID Malan out-Fredded Flintoff to help Middlesex qualify for their first ever Twenty20 finals day on Tuesday night. The 20-year-old batsman struck a phenomenal 103 from 54 balls to become the Crusaders first ever 20-over century-maker

By James Callow

DAWID Malan "out-Fredded" Flintoff to help Middlesex qualify for their first ever Twenty20 finals day on Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old batsman struck a phenomenal 103 from 54 balls to become the Crusaders' first ever 20-over century-maker.

And after bowling one over of leg-spin for just three runs, Malan then dismissed threatening England and Lancashire all-rounder Flintoff with a superb catch in the deep.

Playing at the Oval while Lord's is prepared for England's first Test against South Africa, Middlesex's victory was all the more remarkable for losing their first four wickets for 21 runs.

But Malan led a startling recovery to post 176-7, and his team-mates held their nerve with the ball to book Middlesex a place in the four-team finals day, held at the Rose Bowl on July 26.

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And if Middlesex can finish in the top two, they will qualify for the Dubai-based Twenty20 Champions League, where the eight best teams in the world play for £2.5million - with £1m going to the winners.

That record prize may seem distant, but in the youthful brilliance of Malan and Steven Finn, and the experience of Murali Kartik and Owais Shah, Middlesex have an unlikely chance of silverware.

Middlesex started in disarray with their openers, Owais Shah and Billy Godleman, scoring just one between them.

Stand-in skipper Ed Joyce was then unlucky to be adjudged caught behind for eight, and may face disciplinary measures for his subsequent show of dissent.

Ben Scott followed for a single, but Eoin Morgan and Malan joined together in a vital fifth wicket partnership of 80.

It was to prove match-winning, Malan returning to the scene where he made his debut exactly two years earlier.

That day the then 18-year-old made a 41-minute 11 but this time around he was simply breathtaking.

Early patience soon made way to a torrent of clean, aggressive hits, as he smashed three huge sixes in four Francois du Plessis balls before scurrying for his 50.

Morgan soon got too cute for his own good, losing his stumps for 33 after trying to flick over the wicketkeeper's head, but Malan found an extra gear.

Now 101-4 from 14 overs, Middlesex were still only heading for a par score, but Malan tucked into Du Plessis' second over like a ravenous bear, scoring a further 28 and clearing the boundary twice more.

Tyron Henderson announced his arrival with an equally ferocious six and bit into Sajid Mahmood's bowling before Flintoff reasserted a degree of control.

Bowling Lancashire's final over, Flintoff finally accounted for Malan, who slashed a full-toss to point, Shaun Udal following a ball later.

But thanks to Malan's brilliance Middlesex had a significant total to defend, and Finn, the 19-year-old quick bowler, dismissed Gareth Cross for a duck.

Former Surrey seamer Tim Murtagh then trapped Steven Croft in front, before having Stuart Law caught by Udal.

Kartik withstood an early onslaught from Flintoff, who reached his half-century from 40 balls, but his threatening innings was finally ended on 53 by Finn.

And while Croft, Kyle Hogg and Glenn Chapple kept Lancashire within reach with some lusty blows down the order, Henderson bowled a nerveless last over to secure a memorable and historic 12-run victory.