Middlesex hold nerve to deny Sussex

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Middlesex 147-6 (20 ovs): Eskinazi 57*, Stirling 40; Jordan 2-29
Sussex 145-8 (20 ovs): Nash 69; Sowter 2-25, Finn 2-32
Middlesex (2 pts) beat Sussex (0 pts) by two runs

Stevie Eskinazi’s maiden T20 half-century set up an incredible Middlesex victory as they maintained their faint hopes of qualification with a two-run win over Sussex.

Eskinazi struck 57 not out from 44 balls at Lord’s – but the home side appeared to be well short of a competitive total as they posted 147-6.

Sussex’s success seemed inevitable as opener Chris Nash top scored with 69 – yet they were denied by tight bowling at the death from Nathan Sowter, Tim Southee and Tom Helm.

Put in to bat, Middlesex struggled to pierce the field during the powerplay and their decision to promote John Simpson as opener failed to pay off, as he scratched around for nine off 14 balls before scooping Chris Jordan to mid-on.

Although Eskinazi and Paul Stirling (40) batted steadily, they never really managed to accelerate, while Eoin Morgan skied spinner Danny Briggs to backward square leg.

Eskinazi’s excellent shot placement took him past his half-century, but nobody could stay with him for any length of time and Middlesex’s score looked insufficient.

Luke Wright (6) was given a life at the start of Sussex’s reply when George Scott dropped him on the boundary, but he perished in the next over, carving Steven Finn to gully.

However, the lack of scoreboard pressure meant that Nash and Stiaan van Zyl were able to take a controlled approach to the chase, adding 56 for the second wicket.

Sowter’s sharp running catch removed Van Zyl (34) and Sussex lost two more quick wickets as Ross Taylor (3) played on to Finn and Sowter bowled Ben Brown (5).

The leg-spinner trapped Nash leg before with just eight runs required – but Helm (1-27) produced five dot balls in his final over to clinch a memorable Middlesex win.