O'Brien sets up Middlesex triumph
Former New Zealand seamer Iain O’Brien ensured Middlesex got their Clydesdale Bank 40 Group B campaign off to a winning start by ripping through Northamptonshire in a low-scoring game.
The 33-year-old claimed 4-41 inside seven overs at Wantage Road to help skittle the Steelbacks for a mediocre 146.
Only David Sales offered any resistance, hitting a 75-ball 56 as Middlesex set about making up for Saturday’s thrilling LV= County Championship loss against the same opponents.
Panthers pair Gareth Berg and Dawid Malan made light work of the chase with unbeaten scores of 43 and 31 respectively to seal a seven-wicket victory inside 33 overs.
Northants skipper Nicky Boje chose to bat, but lost both of his openers in the second over.
O’Brien was on hand to first remove Stephen Peters lbw before having Alex Wakely caught behind.
He had his third victim when former South Africa all-rounder Andrew Hall went cheaply for 18 after locating Berg at extra cover, leaving Northamptonshire reeling on 31 for three.
Rob White made 11 before he edged Berg to wicketkeeper John Simpson and the hosts’ problems deepened when captain Boje was cleaned up by Tom Smith for 12.
Shaun Udal joined the attack in the 22nd over and he immediately took two wickets, the first when James Middlebrook was stumped by John Simpson on his Northants debut.
Paul Harrison had faced three balls without scoring when he was caught by Malan at slip off Udal. Sales then launched Toby Roland-Jones to Tim Murtagh at fine-leg.
Roland-Jones caught David Willey at long-off for 13 off Murtagh before O’Brien wrapped up the innings by bowling Lee Daggett.
Chasing 147, Middlesex lost Scott Newman for 19 in the fifth over when he edged to wicketkeeper Harrison off Daggett.
England captain Andrew Strauss hit 20 but went in the same fashion as Newman, this time to David Lucas.
Josh Davey made 15 before Middlebrook removed his middle stump during his first over as Northamptonshire sought to bring down Middlesex’s run-rate.
But Malan and Berg, who came together with the score 63 for three, eased the visitors to victory with an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 85.