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Panthers pounce on Eagles

Middlesex Panthers crushed Essex Eagles by eight wickets in their Friends Life t20 duel at Chelmsford after the home side were bowled out for 74, their lowest total in the competition.

Only Owais Shah, with 39 from 43 balls, posed any threat as the rest of his colleagues were swept aside with ease.

Essex's hopes of posting a challenging total were in ruins after only four overs; by that time, they had lost half their side for 12 runs, with New Zealand paceman Kyle Mills removing Greg Smith and Graham Napier in the first four balls of the match.

Mills then dismissed countryman Hamish Rutherford, who put up an easy catch to Joe Denly, to pave the way for Gurjit Sandhu to inflict further damage.

Sandhu had Jaik Mickleburgh caught behind by Adam Rossington before bowling Ryan ten Doeschate with his next delivery.

Shah, whose innings included six boundaries, was the seventh man out with the total on 59 when he was stumped advancing down the pitch to left-arm spinner Ravi Patel.

Mills picked up his three wickets for only four runs in three overs while Sandhu and Neil Dexter ended with 2-15 and 2-18 respectively as the home side's sorry effort came to an end in the 17th over.

In the face of such a low total, Middlesex had no difficulty in carving out a victory that enabled them to go top of the South Group, ahead of previous leaders Surrey on net run-rate.

Shaun Tait did offer Essex, who slipped a place to fourth, a glimmer of hope when he removed openers Paul Stirling and Dawid Malan in his first two overs but Denly and Adam Voges carried the visitors past the winning post.

Denly set the scene with three boundaries in an over off Napier on his way to an unbeaten 34 while Voges finished with 22 not out as Middlesex were able to celebrate victory with 10.1 overs to spare.

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