James Hildreth’s 102 not out was ultimately in vain as Dawid Malan’s 99 saw Middlesex Panthers to a four-wicket win over Somerset in a floodlit Yorkshire Bank 40 Group C match at Lord’s.
The hosts looked to be cruising at 159 for one in the 24th over after Malan, pictured, had shared in stands of 71 and 88 with Paul Stirling and Joe Denly respectively, but a cool captain’s innings by Neil Dexter was then required after the loss of four wickets for 26 runs in eight overs.
Victory eventually arrived with five balls to spare as Dexter, unbeaten on 39, Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner – who ended a good individual performance by pulling the winning boundary – dealt impressively with the pressure of having to score 55 in the last eight overs.
Stirling had fallen for 27 when he struck his 24th ball straight to mid-off, yet Denly included a six over long-on off Arul Suppiah in his 31 before he went for a rash big hit against Max Waller’s leg-spin and skied a catch to wicketkeeper Alex Barrow.
Suddenly panic set in and Middlesex also lost Chris Rogers for one, superbly caught low down by Marcus Trescothick diving to his right at first slip off Jamie Overton, who then trapped Adam Rossington lbw with a stunning yorker.
When Malan drove wildly at Craig Meschede’s medium pace, and Barrow flung himself to his left to cling on to the edge, Somerset were right back in the game.
Dexter, however, added 44 in combative fashion with Berg, until the latter skied a leading edge to long-off and departed for 17.
But Rayner also played well to finish on 12 not out and seal a win that puts Middlesex into third place in Group C.
Hildreth had earlier completed his hundred in spectacular style, hitting James Harris for three successive sixes and two fours in the 40th over, which yielded 26 runs, of the Somerset innings to boost the total to a defendable 247 for seven.
Before the explosive end to Hildreth’s superbly paced 94-ball innings, which contained seven fours as well as those three sixes from the first three balls of the final over, it seemed that off-spinner Rayner’s fine eight-over spell of 3-31 had put the Panthers well on top.
Somerset, looking to go top of the group by completing a double over Middlesex after beating them by six wickets at Taunton a fortnight ago, were given a rollicking start by Trescothick and Peter Trego, who put on 73 before Rayner struck his first blow in the ninth over of their innings.
Trescothick, having clubbed two sixes and four fours in 41 from 33 balls, was bowled off stump as he propped forward defensively to one that straightened in Rayner’s opening over.
Trego was well held for a 28-ball 35 by Rossington, standing up to Harris on a docile surface, and Rayner then had the out-of-form Nick Compton brilliantly held one-handed for six by a leaping Dexter at short midwicket.
Dexter claimed a more straightforward chance when South Africa’s Dean Elgar chipped to short extra-cover on 15, and only Hildreth stood firm as the Somerset slide continued when Barrow gave Stirling a simple return catch and Suppiah hit Tim Murtagh to extra-cover.
From 187 for six, however, Hildreth was joined by Meschede, who drove Toby Roland-Jones into the pavilion for six, in a resourceful stand of 32 before the former’s own magnificent late assault on Harris.