Middlesex 246 v Essex
Simon Harmer followed up his 14-wicket spree against Warwickshire last week with another five-wicket haul to roll over Middlesex for 246 in the day-night Specsavers County Championship match at Chelmsford.
The South African off-spinner profited most from the first use of the pink ball in domestic cricket as he returned figures of five for 77 from his 20 overs. In his pomp he took three wickets for one run in 12 balls to reduce Middlesex from 225 for six to 231 for nine.
Paul Stirling, Middlesex’s Irish middle-order batsman, ruined Harmer’s analysis during a 50-ball 77 that included eight fours and five sixes. It followed his 111 against Yorkshire in Middlesex’s first win of the season last week.
The reigning champions had looked set fair with a third-wicket stand of 126 between Dawid Malan and Steve Eskinazi after they had slipped to two for two in the third over.
Mohammad Amir and Jamie Porter had been almost unplayable in the first 20 minutes as the ball swung prodigiously. Middlesex had given Essex first go with the pink cherry and must have regretted the decision in the short-term.
Amir had his first Essex wicket on the board with the sixth ball of his opening spell, beating Nick Gubbins with one that came in and trapped him lbw. Five balls later, Nick Compton got one that held up and snicked Porter behind.
The third-wicket pair of Dawid Malan and Steve Eskinazi had put on 126 in 33 overs when Simon Harmer got one to straighten and take the outside of Malan’s bat for James Foster to pouch. Malan had hit his 11th boundary the previous ball and in all faced 93 deliveries.
Eskinazi followed soon after, edging Porter to Alastair Cook at first slip for a 111-ball 66. And Amir had John Simpson shuffled tentatively on to his back foot and was pinned plumb in front as Middlesex slipped from 126 for two to 158 for five in five overs.
Paul Stirling's one-man assault ended when he turned Harmer into Ryan ten Doeschate’s hands at cover for a 50-ball 77, and Olly Rayner went in similar fashion in the same over. Harmer had a fifth wicket in his next over when Tim Murtagh was another lbw victim.