Hampshire 2nd XI v Middlesex 2nd XI – Game One
Hampshire Second XI were unfortunate to fall to a narrow four-wicket defeat despite half-centuries from Owais Shah (59* from 33) and Tom Alsop (57 from 25) in the first T20 fixture against Middlesex Second XI at the Ageas Bowl.
After being put into bat by the visitors, Hampshire battled hard to post 176-5 from their allotted overs with impressive performances coming from several top-order batsman.
However despite posting a competitive total and some efficient bowling, the hosts’ bowling unit were unable to deny Middlesex victory - the visitors chasing down their target to finish 179-6 with just two balls to spare.
Having lost opener Joe Gatting (1) in just the second over, the home-side recovered to accumulate runs quickly early on; Alsop and Liam Dawson (42 from 34) helping to take control to start the innings.
Although the former departed shortly after his fifty and Dawson following in quick succession, Shah looked in brilliant form on his way to an aggressive half-century. Wickets continued to fall around him but the right-hander remained resolute and saw the home-side to their total in superb style, whilst also finishing unbeaten.
In reply, Middlesex began in emphatic fashion with Ireland international Paul Stirling (40 off 18) and Dawid Malan (56 off 36) helping their side reach 70 without loss from just four overs before the former was dismissed.
Malan continued to attack Hampshire’s bowling unit and with good support from Steven Ezkinazi (34 off 23), the away-side looked on track for victory.
Wickets came for Dawson (2-26) and Chris Wood (1-43) to help stall the Middlesex chase and give Hampshire a small chance of snatching the win but ultimately fell just short as the visitors reached their target inside the final over to claim the first win in the opening T20 double-header fixture.
Hampshire 2nd XI v Middlesex 2nd XI – Game Two
A blistering century from Ireland international Paul Stirling (116 from 56) helped Middlesex emerge victorious, as Hampshire suffered an 89-run defeat in the second T20 match at the Ageas Bowl.
The visitors posted a mammoth 232-4 from their allotted overs, thanks largely to a 177-run opening partnership from Stirling and Dawid Malan (65 from 33).
In reply, Sean Terry (57 from 41) played brilliantly to hit a well-made half-century but some consistent bowling from the away-side saw Hampshire fall short in their chasing efforts after being dismissed for 143.
Having lost the toss and been put into bat, Middlesex began their innings aggressively as boundaries flowed throughout the opening overs. Both Stirling and Malan hit some hefty blows as they looked to attack from the off inside the initial overs.
With both men scoring quickly, Middlesex raced along to 177-0 after just 13 overs before Mason Crane (1-33) claimed his first wicket to remove Malan.
Stirling continued to impress as he displayed a range of power-hitting strokes which brought regular boundaries for the away-side.
Despite little support coming from the Middlesex middle order and some good spells from Hampshire’s middle-overs bowlers, Stirling remained at the crease to guide Middlesex past 200 before he fell to an impressive Yasir Arafat (2-30).
However the damage had already been done as Stirling led his side to a formidable first-innings total.
With plenty of work to do for the home-side, Terry and Joe Gatting (24 from 8) got off to a solid start and some early boundaries gave encouragement to the fellow Hampshire batsman.
But the dismissal of Gatting sparked a surge of wickets with Terry offering the only innings of note as Hampshire’s top order were faced with an extremely difficult chase and an ever climbing run rate.
In the end, the hosts were unable to get close to Middlesex’s large first-innings total and the visitors were able to claim their second victory of the double fixture.
Words: Will Brewster