Essex 172-9 (20 ovs): Wheater 43; Sowter 4-23, Helm 2-30
Middlesex 163-7 (20 ovs): Morgan 37, Scott 34; Bopara 2-24
Essex (2 pts) beat Middlesex (0 pts) by nine runs
Middlesex left themselves with too much to do to overhaul Essex to deliver a blow to their hopes of making the T20 Blast knockout stages.
Leg-spinner Nathan Sowter blasted a hole in the middle of the Essex innings with career-best T20 figures of 4-23, but Adam Wheater’s 21-ball 43 laid the foundations for the home win.
Ravi Bopara and Mohammad Amir then bowled miserly four-over spells as several Middlesex batsmen failed to capitalise on starts.
Put in, Essex raced past 50 in the fifth over until Varun Chopra (26) chipped to James Franklin at midwicket.
Wheater lofted Ryan Higgins for two sixes in an over but departed when he was bowled by Sowter’s first ball.
Bopara thumped Paul Stirling for a six over the press-box stand and into the river but, after contributing 27 from 25 balls, he was caught on the long-leg boundary by Franklin off Sowter, who also had James Foster lbw first ball.
Skipper Ryan ten Doeschate fell for 25 after a running catch on the cover boundary by George Scott, while Paul Walter made a pugnacious 20 not out.
In reply, Middlesex lost Paul Stirling in the second over but Stevie Eskinazi and John Simpson hit five boundaries off seven balls before a adding a couple of maximums.
Amir ended the second-wicket fun, removing Eskinazi, and Simpson didn’t stay much longer, misjudging Lawrence’s first ball and going lbw for 30 from 19 balls.
Eoin Morgan and George Scott added 56 for the fourth wicket but the captain miscued to wide mid-on, with Bopara taking a memorable caught and bowled.
Essex’s tight bowling left Middlesex needing 47 runs from the last four overs, with Zaidi bowling Scott for a 36-ball 34.
A faster ball from Amir accounted for Tim Southee to leave Middlesex needing 26 from the final over, and they came up short.