11:01 PM IST
ECB Reporters Network
Middlesex 184 for 5 (Holden 102*) v Essex 10 for 0 – Match abandoned
Max Holden made sure Middlesex didn’t miss their 2019 batting stars by clubbing his maiden T20 hundred but rain thwarted a result against Vitality Blast holders Essex Eagles.
Middlesex had lost four of their top five run-scorers from last season’s run to the quarter-finals, but Holden struck a 60-ball 102 to create a new hero. That set Essex 185 to win, but only nine balls of the reply were possible before forecast rain saw the match abandoned.
While Middlesex were much-changed from 2019, Essex could call on eight of the side which defeated Worcestershire Rapids in the final at Edgbaston last September.
Simon Harmer won the toss and elected to bowl first, but Essex conceded 18 runs off the first over as Steve Eskinazi took Aaron Beard apart with three boundaries through cover before a maximum over midwicket. Matt Quinn took his revenge for team-mate Beard when Eskinazi skied him to Harmer, with Martin Andersson run out after being turned back soon after.
That brought Holden and Nick Gubbins together, and for eight overs they dominated with a 71-run stand.
Holden was lucky to survive a stumping chance off Dan Lawrence and a Shane Snater drop at long-off, on 2 and 27 respectively. But he moved through the gears as if he was Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, most notably with a driven push through extra-cover, before taking a liking to Harmer.
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Firstly, Holden struck back over the South African’s head and into the sightscreen, then slog-swept him into the vacant stands.
With AB de Villiers, Dawid Malan, Paul Stirling and Eoin Morgan dominating last year, Holden had been restricted to a single match. He cashed in on a rare appearance here with a 35-ball fifty.
Gubbins had provided the run-a-ball glue for Middlesex before he was caught flicking Paul Walter to backward square leg, before Dan Lincoln and John Simpson were each caught at long-on trying to accelerate. But that didn’t halt Holden, who took Harmer for another straight six, with his three figures arriving with an all-along-the-floor cover drive – only 24 balls after he had last raised his bat.
His previous highest score in seven Blast matches had been 84 against Somerset.
After an elongated mid-innings break, Varun Chopra and Cameron Delport scored 10 runs in nine balls, with Miguel Cummins delivering his first Blast over, before the rain fell.
A re-calculated challenge of 156 from 16 was handed to Essex, as the ground staff played the hokey-cokey with the cover around the showers, but the match was finally called off at 4.45pm, for a point apiece.
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