Middlesex fall short as Sussex David Wiese puts in magnificent performance

Middlesex's Stephen Eskinazi during day two of The Bob Willis Trophy match at Radlett Cricket Club,

Middlesex's Stephen Eskinazi during day two of The Bob Willis Trophy match at Radlett Cricket Club, Radlett. - Credit: PA

David Wiese’s magnificent unbeaten 79 saw Sussex beat hosts Middlesex by three wickets in a thrilling Vitality Blast clash at Lord’s.

Middlesex's James Harris in action during day one of The Bob Willis Trophy match at Radlett Cricket

Middlesex's James Harris in action during day one of The Bob Willis Trophy match at Radlett Cricket Club, Radlett. - Credit: PA

The Sharks’ all-rounder hit three sixes and eight fours, surviving a catch from a James Harris no-ball as the visitors recovered from 67-5 to reach a victory target of 166 with four balls to spare and go top of the South group.

Wiese’s winning hand came after Danny Briggs (2-21) had restricted the hosts to a below par 165-5 which owed much to Stevie Eskinazi’s 79.

Eskinazi, fresh from his 84 in the thrilling tie with Kent three days earlier came out bristling with intent, hitting two savage boundaries in the first over bowled by George Garton.

And when Ollie Robinson, so often Middlesex’s nemesis steamed in from the Pavilion End in the next over, the Seaxes red-ball skipper promptly pulled him for six eight rows back into the Mound stand.

However, Max Holden perished early, and the hosts were 58-1 at the end of the powerplay.

It was then the outstanding Briggs began to weave his magic, bowling Martin Anderson for 14 before having Nick Gubbins caught in the deep.

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With Will Beer wheeling away effectively at the other end, even Eskinazi became becalmed and a reverse sweep from John Simpson in the 12th over was the first boundary for 34 balls.

The diminutive wicketkeeper would strike three maximums in his 46 from 31 balls as he and Eskinazi added 80 for the fourth wicket.

But both perished in quick succession to Robinson (1-30) and Tymal Mills (2-33) respectively just as a par score looked possible and the innings petered out.

Defending 165 looked a tall order even with in-form openers Phil Salt and Luke Wright striding to the crease.

Wright though would miss out, holing out to Steven Finn at mid-on for just 4 in a first over bowled by Helm the hero of Saturday’s thrilling finale.

Salt deposited Finn’s first ball into the Grandstand to signal his intent. But Finn extracted swift revenge when Salt pulled another short one from the Seaxes skipper into the hands of Dan Lincoln on the square leg boundary.

And when a brilliant piece of boundary fielding saw Lincoln parry a pull shot from Harry Finch off Finn into the hands of teammate Nathan Sowter, Sussex were 37-3

Delray Rawlins took up the chase, planting deliveries from both Finn and debutante Hollman into the same spot in the mound stand Eskinazi had found earlier.

However, there was delight just one ball later for Hollman (2-33) when he pinned the all-rounder leg before.

The youngster wasn’t finished, striking again in his next over when Ravi Bopara drove him to him to the safe hands of Eskinazi at cover.

He and Sowter (0-20) appeared to be bowling well in tandem, but James Harris was reintroduced and promptly produced a no-ball leading to a free hit from which Wiese smote the biggest six of the night.

It was the signal for the all-rounder to cut loose, hitting Hollman for 17 off his next over, including another towering six.

With George Garton proving an excellent foil, the 50-stand came in just 25 balls.

Wiese pulled Finn savagely to the boundary to reach 50 in just 33 balls, but Middlesex were back in it when Harris castled Garton with 36 needed.

Helm (2-17) returned to bowl Robinson and Middlesex sniffed victory when Wiese holed out in the penultimate over only for the umpire to call no-ball, but Wiese had the final say.

Captain Steven Finn said: “Another good game of cricket, but there were a couple of errors where if we look back on it now we could have done better.

“I’d say 165 was slightly below par, but we knew if we could get wickets early we could put them under pressure to try and make big shots.

“David Wiese played an amazing innings to beat us. Even if we’d got him out halfway through his innings I think we win that game, so hats off to him.

“They called dead ball as soon as the no-ball was called, so he couldn’t have been run out, so that was irrelevant.

“The rule is if it is above head high it is a no-ball. I think this is the only competition in the world that has that delivery as a no-ball and not a wide, which seems bizarre to me. So, we were stitched up by the rules a bit, but we move on.

“Luke (Holman) is an exciting young player who has been doing very well in league cricket. He’d have been nervous coming here to play T20 against a very good Sussex team, so for him to take a couple of wickets is a big confidence booster for everyone.”