About the Match
A look at the standings indicates that this match between Middlesex and Essex is a clash between the lowest placed team and one placed sixth but the fact of the matter is that both teams are on exactly the same points. With just 4 points separating the topmost and the bottom most team, the South Group is currently squeezed tightly together and this match is another opportunity for both teams to improve their position greatly.
Four losses and a tie from seven matches is a poor return for Middlesex. The team is packed to the gills with quality players and even the loss of Dawid Malan to international duty should not have dented the awesome batting ability they possess.
Cricket, though, is not played on paper and currently, all the big names in the Middlesex batting lineup are going through a rough phase. Eoin Morgan struck some form in the last match as he scored 59 from 28 balls but he did not have much support from the others.
In fact, it was only a five ball twenty from Higgins that helped Middlesex reach a total of above 160 which Somerset eventually overhauled.
Their opponent for this match, Essex, has an excellent bowling attack led by one of the best new ball bowlers in the world and that should worry Middlesex. On the other hand, if Brandon McCullum can get going then it's going to be a whole different story. His current rate of success though is extremely poor.
Tim Southee, Steven Finn, and Nathan Sowter continue to be very good with the ball but somehow Middlesex continues to lose matches regularly! James Franklin’s position in the team is surely under a little threat as he is currently scoring runs at an average of 16.16 and giving away runs at 12.76 per over!
The Essex Eagles had to contend with a washout in their last scheduled game but pummeled Hamshire in the one before that. Ryan Ten Doeschate and his men would definitely be riding a wave of confidence coming into this game after a revamped team seemed to hit some form.
Adam Wheater and Dan Lawrence were pushed up the order against Hampshire and given the license to free their arms. It paid off as they scored 40 odd each and chased down a small total with hardly any contribution from Bopara, Doeschate or Zaidi with the bat.
Essex is also missing a player, Tom Westley, to international duty and so the same combination should continue in all likelihood. We liked what Essex was trying to do in terms of aggression and taking the game on but players like Bopara and Ten Doeschate must bat further up to able to make more of a difference.
Their opponents tend to start with their best players while Essex likes to hold on to them for later in the inning. It will be interesting to see which approach wins out.
The stand out bowler for Essex has been Mohammed Amir even though he is third on the list of their highest wicket takers. Amir has given away runs at only 6.72 per over, a phenomenal achievement in T20 and bowls at the most difficult times in the match.
He, along with Ravi Bopara and Paul Walter has formed a very decent bowling partnership. Ashar Zaidi is not having the best tournament right now but he and Simon Harmer cannot be considered as ‘easy’ pickings either.
Pitch and Conditions
Rain is in the air in London and some interruptions can be expected during the match. Thankfully, the forecast says that the weather will improve as the day progresses so a delayed start may end up turning into a full T20 contest.
The pitch at Lords is always flat and perfect for batting in T20 matches and we expect nothing different.
Essex To Win