Dutch courage to no avail
The Netherlands, conquerors of Yorkshire and Derbyshire in their first two Clydesdale Bank 40 games this season, went within two runs of making it a remarkable treble before Middlesex clung to their 100% record at Lord’s.
The Dutch appeared to be out of the game when Middlesex, put in to bat on a pitch with an invitingly short boundary on the Grandstand side, set them a target of 287 but they almost got there in an incredible finish.
Wesley Barresi and Tom Cooper got them going with a second-wicket partnership of 44 in six overs and Cooper put on 126 in 16 overs with Tom de Grooth for the fourth and an unbroken 66 with Mudassar Bukhari.
In the end, Bukhari needed three off the last ball from Tim Murtagh to win the game but he hit it straight to cover and managed only a single. Cooper was left unbeaten on 126 from 100 deliveries with 13 fours and a six, while Bukhari finished on 36 off 18 balls.
Middlesex were full of confidence after winning their first three LV= County Championship matches as well as their opening CB40 Group A game and it showed as Scott Newman and Dawid Malan led the way with an opening partnership of 120 in 19 overs.
Newman, playing with great freedom, hit 73 from 66 balls including 14 fours before he pulled Michael Swart to square-leg and Malan had accelerated to 90 from 85 balls with eight fours and a six when he was caught on the midwicket boundary off Pieter Seelaar.
Paul Stirling had joined Malan in a second-wicket stand of 88 in 11 overs, the young Irishman improvising impishly to make 45 from 39 balls with six fours until Shane Mott had him brilliantly caught by Cooper, who had taken over the wicketkeeping gloves from Barresi when he damaged a finger taking a wide from Berend Westdijk.
Gareth Berg and Tom Scollay both went cheaply but Neil Dexter and Ollie Rayner picked up 29 from the last two overs, with Rayner hitting the last three balls for four, to lift Middlesex to an imposing total of 286 for five.
It looked like being too tall an order for the Dutch but Middlesex had reckoned without Cooper, De Grooth - who made 58 from 50 balls with four fours and a six - and Bukhari and were forced to come through a grandstand finish.