Panthers blot their copybook
Middlesex suffered their first defeat of the Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign as an error-strewn run-chase against Group B rivals Gloucestershire under the Lord’s floodlights saw them go down with 51 balls unused.
The Panthers never recovered from a miserable start to their pursuit of 247 and were dismissed for 169 to lose by 77 runs, as Anthony Ireland bagged 3-36 and Steve Kirby and Vikram Banerjee took two wickets apiece.
Openers Andrew Strauss and Scott Newman fell inside nine overs, with the England captain pulling firmly into the hands of Hamish Marshall at deep square-leg off Jon Lewis for 14.
Eight runs on, fellow left-hander Newman hooked an Ireland lifter to Banerjee at long-leg.
Owais Shah marched in to pull two sixes into the Tavern Stand off the front foot against Ireland, and then drove wristily through extra cover off Kirby to take Middlesex to 50.
In aiming for a third six, Shah heaved across the line at left-armer James Franklin only to pick out Lewis at fine-leg to depart for 32.
Neil Dexter, in trying to force a straight one through the covers, was bowled by Banerjee, who accounted for Gareth Berg in the same fashion as he aimed through mid-on.
Dawid Malan was run out for 42 by Jon Batty’s direct hit after being sent back by non-striker John Simpson, and Middlesex's victory chances went with him.
Marshall’s six fours and a six during a 71-ball innings of 85 allowed the Gladiators to canter along at 6.15 an over after winning the toss.
The stocky, mop-topped right-hander, who turned his back on international cricket at the end of 2007, featured in a third-wicket stand worth 74 in 11 overs with Batty that helped Gloucestershire recover from a sticky start.
Franklin went in the third over to a low catch at cover by Malan, and Will Porterfield smeared across the line against Toby Roland-Jones to go leg before for 21.
Marshall and Batty sparked the fightback, taking 15 from Dexter’s sole over, then Batty reached his half-century from 74 balls by pulling his fifth boundary through midwicket off Tim Murtagh.
Murtagh again dropped short, allowing Marshall to hook for six and race to 50 from 43 balls with three fours, only for Batty to hole out at long-off soon after against Shaun Udal.
Udal chipped in with two wickets, and Ireland was yorked by Murtagh, but Collins crucially overstepped to concede a no-ball and gift Jon Lewis a life after Berg took a catch at long-on.
Lewis cashed in by pulling the resultant free hit for six and repeated the dose two balls later. Nineteen runs came from Collins’ final over; he finished with 3-46.