Essex romp to routine win
Essex condemned the Unicorns to their sixth Clydesdale Bank 40 defeat in as many matches as they coasted to an eight-wicket victory in their Group C match at Chelmsford.
After restricting their opponents to a modest 183 for nine, Essex triumphed with 14 balls to spare to preserve their unbeaten record in this season’s competition.
An unbroken third-wicket partnership of 149 between opener Mark Pettini and Matt Walker saw the hosts home after Adam Wheater was caught at slip without scoring and Owais Shah fell victim to an unlucky dismissal with the total on 35.
Shah, making his debut for Essex following his return from the Indian Premier League, had made 13 when he was run out, bowler Dan Wheeldon deflecting a straight drive from Pettini on to the stumps with the batsman out of his ground.
That was the last time the Unicorns had anything to celebrate, with Pettini and Walker underlining the gulf in class between the sides.
Pettini stroked his way to 88 not out from 106 balls, including nine fours and a six, while Walker's unbeaten 71 from 94 deliveries contained eight fours.
Paceman Wheeldon was the pick of the Unicorns bowlers with figures of 1-25 from eight overs, three of which were maidens.
Former Hampshire batsman Chris Benham was the rock of the Unicorns innings, hitting an unbeaten 54 from 85 balls, an effort that contained just three fours. Michael Thornely and Glen Querl were the other main contributors with 36 and 23 respectively.
Hopes of the Unicorns setting Essex a testing challenge were dashed by Chris Wright, whose accuracy and hostility brought him figures of 4-20 from eight overs. The pace bowler could have reaped a richer harvest, beating the bat without reward on several occasions.
Wright also took a fine catch low down at long-on to remove Thornely and provide Lonwabo Tsotsobe with his only success at a cost of 39 runs.
Left-arm spinner Tim Phillips picked up 2-33 from eight overs, while 17-year-old Reece Topley and Graham Napier each finished with one wicket.
As the game unfolded, Essex were able to celebrate victory by the same margin as when the sides met a fortnight ago.