Natwest T20 Blast Wrap: Explosive McCullum shines in Middlesex’s comfortable win

Middlesex batsman Brendon McCullum did what he does the best by taking the Kent bowlers out on a leather hunt on Thursday (July 20) in their South Group clash. His breathtaking 88 that came off just 51 balls ensured that Middlesex put up a daunting 179 on the board and eventually secure a 16-run win.

Earlier in the day as Kent elected to bowl first, their aspirations were quashed immediately as the New Zealander went after the bowling right from the word go. His 92-run opening stand alongside Dawid Malan put Middlesex right on top very early in the game. McCullum set the ground ablaze with six sixes and nine boundaries during his explosive stay at the crease and was sent back into the hut only in the 18th over. Although Middlesex were able to notch up a comfortable win, they would know that they fell a few runs short on the board.

In reply, Kent lost both their openers inside the first seven balls of the innings, and lost their wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings too by the end of the fifth over. With Kent three down already for just 36, it looked nothing but over for the side. However, skipper Sam Northeast and all-rounder James Neesham got together in a potential game-changing partnership by adding 75 runs for the fourth wicket in just nine overs. Ryan Higgins removed Northeast in the 14th over before Kent lost another wicket in the following over.

Alex Blake fired a 14-ball 27 but just as he looked to take the game away, Middlesex bounced back to remove him at the brink of the final two overs. With 30 needed to win off the final 12 deliveries, Middlesex conceded just 12 to seal a comfortable win in the end. After the loss, Kent are now left with more losses than wins and would need to do some serious homework to come back hard in the competition.

Brief Scores: Middlesex 179/8 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 88; Matt Coles 4-32) beat Kent 163/8 in 20 overs (Sam Northeast 59, James Neesham 52; Ryan Higgins 2-22, Steven Finn 2-26) by 16 runs.

Hampshire vs Sussex, South Group

Hampshire’s decision to bat first couldn’t have gone worse than how it transpired against Sussex at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. Barring a lone-warrior-like knock from Tom Alsop, there was nothing to write home about Hampshire’s batting as they could only manage to get 126 for 9 in their 20 overs. Sussex made short work of it by tracking down the target with 16 balls and six wickets in hand.

Hampshire were 30 for 4 in no time and it took the solitary efforts of Alsop, where he scored a 50-ball 64 to ensure his side reached 126. Jofra Archer was the wrecker-in-chief as he bagged four wickets to never allow Hampshire from getting up from the mat.

In Sussex’s reply, Chris Nash and Ben Brown stood tall up front to stitch together a 82-run partnership for the second wicket. While both flourished and departed almost together, the likes of Ross Taylor and Laurie Evans did their bit to ensure there were no hiccups in knocking off the remainder of the chase. Sussex’s comfortable six-wicket win is their first this season while Hampshire, who sit at the top of the points table in the group, lost their first.

Brief Scores: Hampshire 126/9 in 20 overs (Tom Alsop 64; Jofra Archer 4-18) lost to Sussex 127/4 in 17.2 overs (Ben Brown 42, Chris Nash 32; Mason Crane 1-19) by six wickets.

Durham vs Leicestershire, North Group

While Leicestershire came into the game against Durham on the back of three consecutive wins, Durham were yet to win one and remained winless at the end of their game on Thursday (July 20) too. Durham, who had elected to bowl first, picked up the wicket of Cameron Delport early but opener Luke Ronchi and Mark Cosgrove combined for the second wicket to add 43 runs in just over four overs. Paul Collingwood had a field day at the office with four wickets under his belt while Ryan Pringle picked up two for himself to restrict Leicestershire to 144 for 8, a target that looked more achievable than not.

Durham, though, got off to a poor start losing openers Adam Hickey and Graham Clarke with just 14 on the board. Michael Richardson was dismissed in the same over before Durham slipped further to be reeling at 69 for 6 in the 15th over. Despite Paul Coughlin’s fighting 42, Durham could only muster 117 in their 20 overs, falling well short of their target. Clint McKay and Colin Ackermann bagged two wickets apiece while Callum Parkinson led the show with three wickets to his name. Leicestershire’s 27-run win helped them stay atop the points table with four wins in as many games and are closely followed by Derbyshire who have two points lesser.

Brief Scores: Leicestershire 144/8 in 20 overs (Mark Cosgrove 33, Luke Ronchi 32; Paul Collingwood 4-24, Ryan Pringle 2-22) beat Durham 117/8 in 20 overs (Paul Coughlin 42*; Callum Parkinson 3-20, Colin Ackermann 2-22) by 27 runs.

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