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Essex remain in the hunt

Middlesex CCC

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Essex retained their prospects of a place in the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals when they beat Middlesex by two wickets in their South Group clash at Chelmsford.

Replying to a disappointing total of 109 all out, Essex got home with 14 balls to spare on the back of a superb innings from Mark Pettini.

The opening batsman never looked in any trouble as he raced to a fifty in 38 balls, a milestone he reached with a straight-driven six, his third of his innings, against Gareth Berg.

He was caught behind two deliveries later in the same over in which Tom Smith, the slow left-arm spinner, bowled Greg Smith for 27.

That dismissal brought to an end a stand of 74 in 10 overs with Pettini, the pair coming together after James Franklin was run out without facing a ball.

Mark Pettini

Mark Pettini's 50 put Essex on course for victory over Middlesex at Chelmsford, although they only managed it with two wickets left

Following the removal of Pettini, who also struck four fours, Essex made life difficult for themselves before the winning post was reached.

Graham Napier became Smith's third victim when he was caught on the square-leg boundary by debutant Ollie Wilkin, who then made a dramatic impact with the ball.

The medium-pace man got rid of Owais Shah, Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster in the space of 10 deliveries.

And with the scores level, the 20-year-old Wilkin took the catch to get rid of Adam Wheater before a wide from Ollie Rayner brought Essex victory.

Wilkin finished with 3-12 from three overs and Smith 3-24 from four as Middlesex made a great fight of it.

The visitors were earlier left regretting their decision to bat first as they struggled to make any real progress against accurate bowling backed up by keen fielding.

So laboured was their batting that only four boundaries arrived from their first 15 overs by which time they had lost half their side for 75.

Their innings was held together by opener Joe Denly, but his 53 consumed 56 balls before he was eighth out - caught on the long-on boundary by ten Doeschate off left-arm seamer Reece Topley.

Of the other batsmen, only Berg managed to reach double-figures - scoring 12 before his defences were breached by left-arm spinner Tim Phillips.

Phillips conceded a mere 12 runs in his permitted four overs while ten Doeschate and Topley each picked up two wickets.

Topley's successes came at a cost of 34 in four overs while ten Doeschate conceded only seven in a couple of overs during an innings that featured just eight boundaries, including one six.

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