Eagles defy superb Klinger to soar

Eagles defy superb Klinger to soar

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Michael Klinger's superb century came in a losing cause for Gloucestershire.

Essex claimed an 18 run win over Gloucestershire in the South Group T20 Blast match at Chelmsford, despite Michael Klinger hitting an unbeaten 104.

The Australian provided almost singular resistance in the visitors’ run chase, after 68 from Mark Pettini helped power the Eagles to 181 all out.

Klinger hit an unbeaten 126 as Gloucestershire defeated Essex in this competition in May, but his side ended short on 163/7 this time.

Essex had a flying start after being inserted by the visitors, as Pettini hit five boundaries from the fifth over, bowled by Jack Taylor.

Fellow opener Jesse Ryder had made 10 before being caught by Benny Howell off David Payne, though the bowler later dropped incoming batsman Tom Westley in the deep.

Pettini raced to his fifty from just 32 balls with ten fours and a swept six of Taylor, appearing set to help the Eagles to a total of over 200.

However, the former Essex captain was dismissed by the first ball from Kieran Noema-Barnett for an excellent 68, as the Eagles slid from 114/1 to 127/5.

Tom Smith dismissed Westley and Ravi Bopara in successive deliveries and had Nick Browne stumped in his next over to claim impressive figures of 3/26.

Ryan ten Doeschate hit a rapid 21 but was superbly ran out by wicket-keeper Geraint Jones, who also claimed two stumpings in a display befitting of his international pedigree.

Graham Napier and James Foster both hit consecutive sixes to power an Eagles recovery, though the latter holded out for 21 to Cockbain off Payne.

The final over saw James Fuller splatter the stumps of both Napier and Kishan Velani, before Shaun Tait was run out by Jones off the final ball of the innings, leaving Essex 181 all out.

Fuller showed great skill with his mixture of yorkers and range of variation to claim two for 22, despite bowling in both the early Powerplay overs and at the death.

With the wicket relatively flat and the boundaries invitingly short, Gloucestershire appeared to have every chance of chasing a target that appeared only at par given the conditions.

In reality, the visitors lost wickets far too regularly to mount a sustained partnership on which to build their chase, with Klinger the outstanding exception to this.

Aside from the Australian in the Gloucestershire top eight only Kieran Noema-Barnett managed to make double figures, meaning any foundations were built on pillars of sand.

Chris Dent was dismissed early by spinner Westley, opening the bowler as part of an innovative move from ten Doeschate, the catch taken by Napier.

Ian Cockbain was bowled by Masters in the following over for just two, as the opening bowler produced ten dot balls in figures of 2-28, leaving the visitors behind the required run rate.

Klinger guided the visitors to 41/2 at the end of the six over powerplay, though Essex were 57/1 at the same point, comfortably ahead.

Gloucestershire eventually passed that mark but by then had lost Hanscomb, caught by ten Doeschate from Tait, and Geraint Jones, who was bowled by Napier.

Noema-Barnett hit two boundaries to reach double figures, looking like he could provide Klinger with the support desperately needed, as the visitors reached 89/4.

However Westley, in his second spell, lured Noema-Barnett into a wild charge down the pitch and Foster completed a regulation stumping.

The following over saw Essex claim wickets in consecutive balls as Napier had Benny Howell leg before and Taylor bowled for a golden duck, completing utterly forgettable matches for both the visiting all-rounders.

Meanwhile Napier and Westley finished with bowling figures of 3/30 and 2/27 respectively, crucial in reducing Gloucestershire to 92/7.

The innings had been one featuring outstanding batting by Klinger from one end, whose exhibition of timing had continued unabated throughout the chaos – a crisp clip for four through midwicket off Tait was particularly beautiful.

Meanwhile at the other end scoreboard pressure, tidy bowling and careless batting saw the visitors struggle to provide their captain with remotely adequate support.

Fuller showed his colleagues that the conditions were hardly treacherous for batsman, following his excellent bowling effort with 26 not out from 19 balls.

This assisted an unbeaten partnership of 71 with Klinger, featuring 48 from the final four overs that included a six over mid-on from the bowling of Tait that cleared the stand.

One could only feel for Klinger, whose century deserved to be in a winning cause, with the hundred coming from just 62 balls, featuring 10 fours and three sixes.

The visiting captain gained a deservedly warm applause from the home crowd – similar levels of support from his fellow batsman might have seen Gloucestershire snatch an unlikely win.

Klinger finished unbeaten on 104, with the visitors tantalisingly close but yet so far short – 18 runs is a relatively comfortable victory in the T20 format.

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