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Pettini steals the show

See Mark Pettini's reaction to his heroics and Essex's win

Essex Eagles skipper Mark Pettini upstaged higher-profile team-mates to lead his side to a spirited first-up NatWest T20 Blast win over Middlesex yesterday.

The double-header at Lord’s was supposed to be all about star names such as England skipper Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and swashbuckling New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder on his Essex debut.

With the likes of Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan and Luke Wright also on show at HQ over the course of the day, few would have predicted Pettini would be the star of the show.

But the 30-year-old never put a foot wrong from the moment he won the toss and sent Middlesex in on a Lord’s wicket that was initially full of runs.

While Morgan and Dawid Malan profited in the conditions, to hoist Middlesex to an imposing 180 for five, Essex always looked on course with their skipper at the helm.

Essex skipper Mark Pettini en route to a career-best 95 not out as he led his side to victory in their NatWest T20 Blast opener at Lord's

Pettini, who had failed to reach double figures in his previous three innings, crunched a career-best, unbeaten 95 from just 54 balls from the top of the order to reel in an above-par target.

So confident was his chase that when Pettini guided James Harris away for his 15th boundary, victory was completed with seven balls to spare.

Pettini initially outshone the in-form Cook, supplying 58 of their 81-run opening stand, before playing the anchor role as Bopara stole the game away.

With 28 required from 14 deliveries, Bopara crashed three sixes in the space of five balls to effectively settle matters.

Pettini was left to complete the finishing touches, though, leaving him just shy of the first century of the new Blast campaign.

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