Eskinazi guides Middlesex to first Royal London Cup win of the season
- Credit: PA
Stephen Eskinazi’s brilliant century and List A best score helped Middlesex registered their first win of the season in the Royal London Cup and inflicted a first setback – by 13 runs - on Worcestershire Rapids at New Road.
Eskinazi returned to action after recovering from a groin injury and marked his first appearance of the summer in the competition by racing to three figures off just 83 balls.
He went onto make 130 from 101 balls with four sixes and 11 fours as Middlesex totalled 302-5 in a game reduced to 41 overs per side.
Brett D’Oliveira continued his fine form with a top score of 74 for the Rapids and Tom Fell and Jake Libby also hit half centuries.
But Middlesex always just held the edge and there were two wickets apiece for Thilan Walallawita, James Harris and Luke Hollman as the Rapids closed on 289-7.
Middlesex opted to bat on a used pitch and openers Max Holden and Eskinazi added 65 before the former on 39 edged Adam Finch through to keeper Gareth Roderick.
Eskanazi struck Charlie Morris and Baker for sixes on his way to a 49 ball half century and he was full of improvisation.
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Robson was equally effective in reaching his 50 off 48 deliveries.
The partnership was worth 129 in 19 overs when Robson (57) fell to a low catch by Fell at mid on off Ed Barnard.
Eskinazi completed his century off 83 balls with a risky two to backward of point and Roderick was convinced he had run him out before he made his ground at full stretch.
It was a near faultless innings containing four sixes and seven fours.
He passed his previous best of 107 against Gloucestershire two years ago and went onto make 130 before he was caught behind off a leading edge against Leach.
Martin Andersson bludgeoned 38 not out off only 11 balls to take the final total past 300 with 39 coming from the final two overs.
Worcestershire openers Jack Haynes and D’Oliveira had put on a club record 243 in the previous game against Essex but this time had to be content with a modest 37 before the former on 17 went for a cut and edged James Harris through to keeper Robbie White.
D’Oliveira completed a 53 ball fifty and the 100 partnership with Fell spanned 83 balls.
D’Oliveira moved onto 74 but then was caught at long off attempting another big hit off Hollman.
It ended a stand of 116 in 15 overs with Fell who reached his own 50 off 55 balls but added only eight more before he was caught off a skier at backward point off Hollman.
There were useful cameos from Roderick, on 23, and Barnard, with 18, and Libby had time to complete a 44 ball fifty before he was dismissed by Harris.
Middlesex century-maker, Steve Eskinazi, said: “One of your best innings? I would say so, particularly after a couple of weeks off (with a groin injury).
“It has been really difficult watching the boys and I haven’t really been injured too much in my career.
“It challenged me and I am really glad to contribute when I came back towards a great win.
“Also particularly because of the situation the club find themselves in, especially in this competition.
“We have the skill and the talent to win games of cricket but it is up to guys like myself and Robbo (Sam Robson) and Pete (Handscomb) and senior players to start putting in performances to back that up.
“To go out and do that, kind of showed people that I’m here to try and drive this competition and drive us forward and is really pleasing.”
Worcestershire batsman Tom Fell, who struck a half century, said: “It was fairly close at the end. Obviously we are disappointed, seeing how close we actually got, but it was another good game of cricket and luckily we had a lot of fans in supporting us again.
“There is a balance. You want to go out (from the start) and be as positive as you can and things didn’t quite happen for us early on. We did dig in a little bit and managed to take it as deep as we could.
“It was always going to be a tough chase but, on another day, we would back ourselves to do it. We did our best and unfortunately it wasn’t to be today.
“Brett (D’Oliveira) played brilliantly again. He really took it to them, especially once he got to 40-50. He really started to get the pace of the wicket and struck it nicely.
“He will be disappointed he didn’t carry on because, if he had stayed there, I think we would have won that game comfortably.
“Myself as well, a little disappointed not to bat a little bit longer and take it a little bit deeper. That’s probably what we lacked, one of us going on and making the chase a little bit more comfortable.”