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Middlesex return to summit

Middlesex Panthers moved back to the top of the Friends Life t20 South Group after a six-wicket win over Sussex Sharks at the County Ground.

Although Middlesex did not secure victory until the fourth ball of the final over, they always looked in control chasing a target of 149.

Dawid Malan continued his outstanding form with 41 to take his competition aggregate this season to 355 runs, while Joe Denly weighed in with 53.

Middlesex needed just a single run off the final over to claim victory but after failing to score from the first three balls, Adam Voges sealed their fourth group win when he chipped Dwayne Smith over midwicket for a boundary as the Panthers reached 152 for four.

Earlier, Sussex skipper Chris Nash had held the hosts' innings together with 61 off 46 balls yet lacked the necessary support as the Sharks finished on 148 for seven.

Nash made his first half-century in this season's tournament, coming in during the fourth over after Sussex were reduced to 31 for two.

Smith was caught behind wafting down the leg side at the first ball of the match from Kyle Mills and Rory Hamilton-Brown picked out midwicket in Gareth Berg's first over after briefly prospering with four boundaries in his 18.

Opener Matt Machan looked in good touch with 27 off 17 balls including six fours but, when he holed out to long on during off-spinner Ollie Rayner's first set of six, it was left to Nash to steady the ship.

Nash lofted the first of three sixes over the pavilion roof in the sixth over off Mills, having been hit on the collar bone earlier in the over. Then, in the 18th over, he twice cleared the ropes off Gurjit Sandhu. Nash also hit five fours, adding 45 for the fourth wicket with Scott Styris in the most productive stand of the Sussex innings – the veteran New Zealander making 24.

Berg picked up two wickets at the end to finish with 3-19 but Sussex's total was immediately put into context when debutant Lewis Hatchett's first over in the format disappeared for 26.

His first delivery went for four leg byes and he then conceded four fours and a six, 22 of the runs scored by Paul Stirling.

Andy Miller, in his first t20 game for two years, knocked back Stirling's off stump in the second over, although an asking rate of seven an over was unlikely to inconvenience a strong Panthers' outfit on a good pitch and quick outfield, especially given the form Malan is enjoying.

Malan and Denly put on 80 in 12 overs for the second wicket – the latter striking four maximums to bring up a second t20 half-century of the season.

Denly was bowled coming down the pitch to Styris, whose four overs cost just 19, and Malan drove to extra cover in the 17th over when 18 runs were needed.

Adam Rossington sent Chris Liddle to point but Middlesex comfortably avenged their earlier defeat at Lord's which remains Sussex's only win in the year’s competition.

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