Essex sneak home once again
Essex beat Middlesex by six runs in their Friends Life t20 South Group match at Lord's, the hosts falling just short with 149 for nine in their pursuit of 156.
Tim Phillips chipped in with 3-27 for the visitors, while Ryan ten Doeschate and Graham Napier impressed with the bat after James Foster had elected to make first use of the pitch.
Middlesex made a wretched start, losing half their wickets in the first nine overs with just 36 runs on the board.
Only Adam Rossington offered any resistance as slow left-armer Phillips, the competition's leading bowler in 2011, removed both openers in his first two overs while Dawid Malan and Neil Dexter also fell for single-figure scores.
Rossington struck out, hitting a six and two fours, but, having scored 22, he played down the wrong line to give David Masters a wicket.
Gareth Berg included a few rustic swipes amongst more conventional strokeplay in a combative innings of 39, only to then become a third victim for Phillips.
Steven Crook and Ollie Rayner offered belated hope for the home team as rain arrived, with an array of aggressive shots and a stand of 49 in five overs.
At the start of the final over, 18 were needed with three wickets intact but Crook, on 22, then holed out to deep cover off the bowling of Greg Smith while Toby Roland-Jones was run out off the final delivery, leaving the plucky Rayner 39 not out from 21 balls.
Having won the toss, Essex got off to a brisk start with their opening pair of Mark Pettini and James Franklin posting 46 in seven overs before spinner Rayner accounted for both batsmen.
Pettini was bowled for 26, which included five boundaries - four off Roland-Jones - and Franklin was stumped for 23, but ten Doeschate took a shine to the bowling of Tom Smith, despatching the slow left-armer for three sixes in two overs.
Those proved to be the only boundaries for the Netherlands international, who scored 38 from 27 balls before being pinned in the crease by Dexter.
It was left to Napier to provide the most entertaining contribution with a cameo 28. Having taken a look at his first delivery, he then blasted 22 off the next five balls with one six and four fours - 19 coming off Dexter.
Searching to add to his tally of boundaries, the burly all-rounder got a leading edge and skied into the covers where Rayner held on to give Berg the first of his two wickets.
The visitors had been 63 for one at the halfway point but faltered in the latter stages as the Middlesex attack bowled tightly.
Essex now have four points and share top position in the group with Surrey and Sussex.