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Bopara aims for Essex response

Essex Eagles all-rounder Ravi Bopara has told his team-mates to pick themselves up ahead of tonight's NatWest T20 Blast clash with Middlesex Panthers.

The Eagles, who are sitting pretty at the top of the South Group with five wins from their six games, were given a whipping in the LV= County Championship this week as Hampshire inflicted a 470-run defeat on them.

That was at odds with their superb record in the shortest form of the game and Bopara wants to bounce back.

“There’s no point getting down,” he told the club’s website.

“Just look at the next ball that’s all you can do. As a player that’s all you should do.

“Everyone gets down after a loss. When you win you can’t go too mad when you lose you can’t get too sad.”

Eagles will choose froma 14-man squad with Greg Smith, Kishen Velani and Saj Mahmood added to the party that beat Gloucestershire last Friday, although Graham Napier and Matt Salisbury are still unfit.

Eagles head coach Paul Grayson added: "They played very well on Wednesday against Somerset and that will give them confidence and we know that they have some dangerous players in their line-up.

"It only takes a couple of excellent performances to win a game of Twenty20 cricket and so we will be treating them with the utmost respect."

Middlesex Panthers come into the game on the back of their maiden win of the season – an impressive eight-wicket success over Somerset with 2.5 overs to spare.

Joe Denly inspired the victory with a pulsating 60-ball 98 not out and the Panthers will pick from the same squad.

* Essex have won five of their last seven T20 matches against Middlesex, although the last meeting between these teams at Chelmsford saw Middlesex record the joint-fifth largest English T20 win in terms of balls remaining.

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