Shah steers Eagles home
Essex eased to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Leicestershire in their Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A clash at Chelmsford.
In a match reduced to 25 overs a side because of rain, the Eagles surpassed their opponents’ total of 151 for seven with nine deliveries to spare.
Owais Shah led the way for Essex with an unbeaten 45 from 46 balls, although the foundations had been laid by openers Mark Pettini and Tom Westley, who shared in a stand of 62 in nine overs.
Wayne White had Westley lbw for 27 from the final ball of his first over and struck again with his next delivery when Pettini popped up a simple catch to Robbie Joseph at short extra-cover.
Greg Smith helped Shah take the score into three figures, only to be superbly taken low down by Rob Taylor at deep square-leg off Michael Thornely.
Essex still required 42 off the final five overs, but Shah then stepped up a couple of gears to help see them home.
He took successive fours off Thornely before despatching Nathan Buck for an on-driven six. Ryan ten Doeschate then maintained the tempo and sealed victory with three successive boundaries at the expense of Buck.
Although White emerged as the visitors’ most successful bowler with 2-17 from four overs, it was 20-year-old James Sykes, the left-arm spinner, who impressed most with a five over spell that cost only 15.
Leicestershire's total owed much to Thornely. Fresh from his century in the championship battle between the two counties, he again batted with a confident assurance that brought him 55 from 53 balls.
The pick of his shots was a towering six over long-on against left-arm spinner Tim Phillips. Thornely had also studded his innings with four fours until he was brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary, Graham Napier racing 20 yards and diving to cling on to the ball inches off the ground.
Matthew Boyce was the only other batsman to pass 20; he drove Napier into the hands of extra-cover in the final over.
Essex, who inserted their opponents, used seven bowlers, the most successful of whom was off-spinner Harbhajan Singh with 3-29 from five overs.