Malan blitzes all-round Middlesex to opening day win as Hampshire suffer in Uxbridge

South Group: Middlesex 195-6 (Malan 93) beat Hampshire 126 by 69 runs

After their Specsavers County Championship draw with Somerset on Wednesday, Middlesex four-day captain Adam Voges spoke of the importance of getting a strong T20 start.

Spinner Ollie Rayner echoed the exact same statement, while Dawid Malan talked of needing to take one step at a time with baby steps to get where they could, and really should, be.

It was Blast captain Malan leading from the front at Uxbridge. His 93 from just 48 balls, imperious and match-winning, sent Middlesex on their way to 195-6, a total Hampshire didn’t look close to reaching.

Fewer baby steps, more leaps and bounds to completely outplay arguably the best T20 side of the past decade. And that’s even before Brendon McCullum and Mitchell McClenaghan come to town.

The poor nature of Middlesex’s T20 history, in which they’ve reached one quarter-final aside from their tournament victory in 2008, is as confusing as it is abject.

Packed full of talent with bat and ball, perhaps 2016 will be the year the perennial underachievers capitalise on their talent.

Five boundaries in the first 11 balls signalled an immediate bout of intent for Middlesex, with Malan himself remaining unflustered despite Paul Stirling and Nick Gubbins falling within four balls of each other.

Alongside Voges, not a bad deputy to have in your leadership team, the two batted sensibly as, although boundaries were not as forthcoming, the constant repertoire of singles ensured there was no cause for concern.

It took just 27 balls for Malan to bring up his 50, and despite Voges being caught behind off Liam Dawson, John Simpson came to play second fiddle to Malan.

But, closing in on a seemingly-inevitable third T20 century, Malan fell seven short. The impressive Gareth Andrew had him caught by Tino Best before Shahid Afridi took two wickets in his final over as Middlesex slipped from 155-3 to 159-6.

It was an eight-ball spell that denied the hosts 200, but in the end it mattered little as Hampshire fell plenty short, a potential crucial factor when net run-rate is considered later in the group stage.

Jimmy Adams fell early to a stunning Nathan Sowter catch, but when Michael Carberry and Adam Wheater took the two-time champions to 55-1 in the sixth over, you wondered whether Malan and co. would be able to hold their nerve.

But two wickets in two balls changed the game. Toby Roland-Jones had just watched Harry Podmore go for 19 in an over, but Roland-Jones took out the dangerous Wheater (30) while Sean Ervine was bowled next ball. In true Afridi-style, the Pakistani all-rounder hit the hat-trick ball for four.

Podmore, to his credit, responded to his own first over caning by conceding just three next time around, also dismissing Carberry in the process, while Afridi’s time was ended by a wonderful direct hit from James Fuller.

Four wickets for 13 runs proved a killer blow for Hampshire, who rallied through Liam Dawson’s format-best 46, but as the only man outside of the top three to register double figures, it was a lost cause at Uxbridge as the Ageas Bowl outfit fell comfortably short.

Roland-Jones, Podmore, Fuller and Ravi Patel each took two scalps.

For Middlesex, the most important aspect of the night was to win. While the manner of victory will be a pleasing confidence-booster, but with a tournament as length as the Blast, they’ll need plenty more to get to the last eight.


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