Middlesex win on back of Stirling effort
Paul Stirling’s belligerent 71 guided Middlesex to a six-wicket Friends Life t20 win over Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
The Ireland batsman clubbed eight fours and two sixes in his 49-ball innings and was ably supported by Dawid Malan’s 46 as Middlesex bounced back from their opening two South Group defeats and ended Hampshire’s impressive home run of 11 successive wins - dating back to July 2010 - in the process.
Hampshire, who chose to bat, made 157 for six, with James Vince putting a disappointing season thus far behind him to top-score with 64 not out.
At one stage, Hampshire were 83 for five but Vince and skipper Dimitri Mascarenhas began a recovery with a stand of 44 for the sixth wicket.
Toby Roland-Jones conceded only nine from his first two overs while taking three wickets; he finished with impressive figures of 4-25.
The paceman dismissed openers Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry while Neil McKenzie, making his first appearance of the season, was caught by Ollie Rayner at short fine-leg off his second delivery.
Roland-Jones returned later to bowl Mascarenhas but Vince raced to his half-century off 42 balls and, at the end of the innings, had hit five fours and a six from 47 deliveries.
Middlesex made a poor start to their response, with Kabir Ali bowling Joe Denly and Mascarenhas having Chris Rogers snapped up by Sean Ervine with only 18 on the board.
But then came the match-winning partnership between powerfully-built Stirling and Malan for the third wicket; they put on 107 in 13 overs and there was no way back for Hampshire.
Malan went for 46 in the 16th over but big-hitting Stirling took Middlesex within sight of victory before lofting Ervine to Carberry at midwicket.
Middlesex coasted to victory, requiring 10 from the final two overs and a single from Kabir’s last of the match, with Gareth Berg duly hitting the second ball for four to ensure an unexpected win.