Essex downed but not out
Essex Eagles can look forward to a home Friends Provident t20 quarter-final clash despite suffering an 11-run defeat against Middlesex Panthers at Chelmsford.
Results elsewhere meant that they still secured second place, while Middlesex missed out on a place in the last eight because of an inferior run-rate to Hampshire Royals, who beat Sussex Sharks at the Rose Bowl.
Overcoming the loss of Neil Dexter in the opening over, Middlesex went on to score 173 for seven, with Gareth Berg and Ben Scott the main contributors.
Berg was caught on the long-on boundary after smashing four sixes in his 41, while Scott's unbeaten 43 from 33 deliveries contained five fours.
But the early impetus was provided by David Warner, whose 37 from 20 balls included six fours and a six.
The Australia left-hander was eventually stumped by James Foster to provide veteran Grant Flower with his solitary success.
Chasing a challenging total, Essex were soon in trouble as Alastair Cook drove Pedro Collins to short midwicket in the second over of the innings and Ravi Bopara put up a simple catch to short fine leg in Tim Murtagh's opening over.
Bopara's dismissal came in the fifth over, at the end of which only 29 had been scored, such was the disciplined bowling and alert fielding.
At the halfway stage, Essex had just 59 on the board, and it was only the late efforts of Scott Styris, playing his final game for the county, and Foster that enabled them to make a fight of it.
They added 58 in just under five overs, but were never able to get in a position to threaten Middlesex's superiority.
Styris finally fell to the last delivery of the innings for 42, an effort spanning 30 deliveries and including two fours and two sixes, while Foster finished unbeaten with 35 from 17 balls.
Collins picked up 2-20 from three overs, while Murtagh and Dexter picked up 1-29 and 1-27 respectively.