Malan makes his mark
A superb century from Dawid Malan secured Middlesex a place at the Twenty20 Cup finals day for the first time as they overcame Andrew Flintoff’s heroics to defeat Lancashire by 12 runs at the Brit Oval.
The 20-year-old left-hander reached three figures from just 51 balls with 10 fours and six sixes as he rescued the Crusaders from 21 for four to set a target of 177.
Flintoff impressed with the ball in taking 3-17 from four overs and then smashed a rapid half-century, but he could not prevent his side falling agonisingly short.
Middlesex skipper Ed Joyce won the toss and elected to bat - and saw his side run into trouble early on.
Owais Shah was promoted to open the innings but lasted only two deliveries before checking a drive off Glen Chapple and spooning a catch to Dominic Cork at mid-off.
Fellow opener Billy Godleman also managed only a single before chasing a wide delivery from Cork and presenting Flintoff with a comfortable chance at first slip.
Joyce was caught behind attempting to hook Cork, and it got worse for Middlesex when Ben Scott fell to a stunning catch at backward point by Francois Du Plessis off Flintoff.
But then came Malan’s magnificent innings. He twice hit three sixes in an over - off Du Plessis and Simon Marshall - and received good support from Eoin Morgan (35) during a fifth-wicket stand of 80 in just nine overs.
Morgan was eventually bowled behind his legs by Steven Croft but Malan continued to blaze away and became the first Middlesex player to score a Twenty20 hundred.
He reached his ton with a single off Cork before Flintoff returned to have him caught at backward point by Stuart Law.
Flintoff struck again with his next delivery to bowl Shaun Udal for a duck and looked impressive in four lively overs.
Lancashire needed to score at 8.85 runs an over to reach their fourth finals day in six years but they also made a disastrous start to their innings.
Steven Finn trapped Gareth Cross lbw for nought with the third ball of the innings and Lou Vincent perished in the same fashion to Tim Murtagh.
It became 14 for three when Law walked across his stumps and top-edged Tim Murtagh to Udal at short fine-leg.
Flintoff greeted the entry into the attack of spinner Udal by lofting his first two deliveries over long-on for six.
The England all-rounder added 54 with Du Plessis before the latter fell for 18 to a fine running catch by Finn at long-off off Murali Kartik.
Flintoff needed only 32 balls to record his fifty, which included five fours and three sixes, but had added only three more when he pulled a Finn full toss to Malan at deep square-leg to leave Lancashire 97 for five.
They refused to buckle and Steven Croft hit a quickfire 16 and Chapple 22 off 12 balls as the light started to fade, but the target was just beyond them as they finished on 164 for eight.