Steven Finn was an unlikely batting hero for Middlesex, hitting the winning runs in a thrilling one-wicket win over Surrey at Lord’s in the T20 Blast.In front of more than 27,000 fans, Middlesex needed 26 runs to win with 30 balls left and seven wickets in hand.
But veteran Surrey off-spinner Gareth Batty (4-14) sparked a collapse before last man Finn’s cameo won the match.
Also in the South Group, Essex beat Somerset by 22 runs and Gloucestershire defeated Kent by six wickets.
Middlesex opened their T20 Blast campaign with a tied match against Gloucestershire on 7 July and their first home outing in this season’s competition offered just as much drama.
Batting first, Surrey appeared on course for a sizeable total when Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Foakes were scoring freely just after the powerplay.
Sangakkara’s 70 off 42 balls was full of craft and invention – a scooped hook off a Finn short ball brought him four runs, while a lofted drive sailed over cover for six and unfortunately smashed the screen of a spectator’s mobile phone.
The Sri Lankan left-hander lost partners frequently and Surrey’s total of 158-9 off 20 overs looked slightly under par, albeit on a pitch that was difficult for batsmen to score against the spinners.
That was exemplified by Surrey captain Batty, who dragged his side back into the contest at a time when Middlesex looked to be cruising towards victory.
Batty accounted for the dangerous Brendon McCullum, as well as England pair Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan, during his spell as he posted the best bowling figures in the tournament so far.
Middlesex lost six wickets for 20 runs to leave them six runs short of victory when Finn strode to the crease, and he survived a huge lbw shout from Ravi Rampaul before hitting a full toss through mid-wicket for four to settle an enthralling contest.
Finn, who has scored a Test half-century for England and is nicknamed “The Watford Wall” because of his robust defensive batting technique, took his career total of T20 runs from 45 to 49 in helping Middlesex to victory.
At Cheltenham, Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell took 4-29 to restrict visitors Kent to 152-8.
Phil Mustard’s 42 helped the home side reach their target with five balls to spare to complete a six-wicket win – their first victory in this season’s competition.
After two consecutive defeats, Essex also got off the mark with a comfortable home win.
Captain Ryan ten Doeschate top-scored with 56 in Essex’s total of 170-6, before Paul Walter (3-28) and Simon Harmer (3-39) restricted Somerset to 148-9 in reply.
Somerset and Sussex are the only two teams without a win in the South Group.
(Adapted from BBC Sports)