Morgan magic leads Middlesex to record chase and Blast quarter-finals

Morgan magic leads Middlesex to record chase and Blast quarter-finals

Eoin Morgan (pic via YouTube)

Middlesex set a new domestic T20 record for the highest successful chase as they secured a quarter-final spot with a sensational six-wicket victory over Somerset at Taunton.

In the most incredible game of T20 cricket, Middlesex chased down 226 with three overs to spare thanks to a remarkable unbeaten 83 from just 29 balls from Eoin Morgan. In doing so, he ensured Somerset missed out on a quarter-final place.

Only Australia, West Indies and England have chased down higher totals in world T20 cricket.

This match had everything, apart from perhaps economical bowling if you really want that. It was probably the most exciting game of T20 you could script.

A brilliant 101 off 47 balls for Somerset skipper Tom Abell, after 62 from 39 balls for Tom Banton, rocketed Somerset to 226-5, their sixth highest ever T20 score in their most important T20 of 2019. They knew victory was needed to reach the quarter-finals.

Yet this was not enough! In a remarkable turn of events Middlesex recorded the highest ever run chase in the history of English T20 Blast cricket.

Right back at 18.30 Somerset got off to a less than ideal start, as Babar Azam was bowled for a golden duck by Toby Roland-Jones. These two had shared six 50-run opening partnerships and were the two leading runscorers in the competition before tonight.

James Hildreth looked to be lbw first ball, something hawkeye’s ball-tracking on Sky Sports later showed to be true with ‘three reds’ – hitting the top of middle and leg.

Banton and Hildreth struggled against Roland-Jones early on, who bowled a superb opening spell of 1-5 off two. But by his third over Hildreth and Banton started to find their groove and damaged his figures.

Steven Finn’s introduction saw an immediate breakthrough, but not thanks to the tall Watford man’s bowling. Finn collected the easiest of underarm throws from Simpson to run out a completely stranded Hildreth who ran two thirds of a second Banton never fancied.

The 20-year-old nearly ran his skipper out just a few overs later, but Nathan Sowter did his best Nathan Lyon impression, fumbling when Abell was halfway down the track gallantly trying to give his wicket away to save Banton.

More luck followed when Tom Helm dropped a skier at point to gift Banton his 50. Banton’s exquisite shot-making was of the highest order, proving again this year he really is the real deal, Somerset’s most exciting talent since Jos Buttler.

Abell’s best work came in the 11th, driving Finn textbookly over extra-cover for four, pulling for six, cover driving for four and flicking the only particularly poor ball for four. 19 runs off the over.

Having switch-hit Hafeez for four through extra cover, Banton’s same shot next ball went aerially straight to Sowter at deep point. 22 sixes for Banton in the Blast this season sees him behind only Aaron Finch (with 23) at the end of the group phase.

Eddie Byrom came in and got going instantly, racing to 36 off 15 with back-to-back sixes off Hafeez, then Abell slog swept Hafeez for six to bring up his 50 off just 28 balls, another four for Abell made it 24 off the overseas’ over!

The skipper raced to his T20 best with more scoop shots and stunning drives, Somerset reaching 200 at the end of the 18th over!

The loss of Byrom and even the returning Lewis Gregory first ball made little difference, Abell continued on.

He could have been run out on four, but Sowter’s miss was the Somerset skipper’s gain – 101 off 47, Somerset’s fastest ever T20 ton!

In a completely different start to Somerset’s innings, Middlesex were 54-0 after three, Malan and Stirling going ballistic!

Two wickets in two balls from Tim Groenewald changed the occasion though, but it brought AB De Villiers and Mohammad Hafeez together at the crease.

De Villiers hit four and six off his first two balls, Somerset by no means taking this defence for granted.

Middlesex were still well above the rate at the halfway stage of their innings, even despite superb fielding off his own bowling from Roelof van der Merwe to run Hafeez out at the non-striker’s end with an under arm through his legs.

Morgan at one point hit Tom Lammonby for a hat-trick of sixes, most crucially Babar falling back on the rope catching the second of these.

The England white-ball skipper motored to his half-century off 21 balls in the 16th over. 

Somerset’s bowling went from bad to worse, and Morgan looked like he was facing tennis balls in his back garden as he smashed the Somerset attack into the crowd again and again.

The England captain took Middlesex through and knocked Somerset out on one of the most phenomenal evenings of cricket in Taunton.

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