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Hashim Amla, Will Jacks play velvet glove and iron fist to send Surrey top


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Hashim Amla, Will Jacks play velvet glove and iron fist to send Surrey top

3:24 AM ISTAlan GardnerAssociate editor, ESPNcricinfo Surrey 218 for 5 (Jacks 55, Amla 67) beat Middlesex 188 for 5 (Eskinazi 77) by 30 runsFor a while, it seemed a blessing in disguise that this match, Middlesex’s final Lord’s appearance of a truncated season, was taking place behind closed doors. Certainly, for those fans tuning in…

Hashim Amla, Will Jacks play velvet glove and iron fist to send Surrey top

3:24 AM IST

  • Alan GardnerAssociate editor, ESPNcricinfo

Surrey 218 for 5 (Jacks 55, Amla 67) beat Middlesex 188 for 5 (Eskinazi 77) by 30 runs

For a while, it seemed a blessing in disguise that this match, Middlesex’s final Lord’s appearance of a truncated season, was taking place behind closed doors. Certainly, for those fans tuning in via the club’s livestream, the first half did not make for pretty viewing. In the end it was simply a shame that a giddy, run-filled evening was not accompanied by a full house roaring on the home side’s bid at a record chase against their cross-town rivals.

Ultimately, they would have gone home disappointed, as Surrey, resurgent after four wins in a row, held their nerve to claim back-to-back London derby bragging rights and power their way to the top of the South Group on net run-rate. Fourth-placed Middlesex have three games remaining, all away from home, in which to hoist themselves back into contention.

That Middlesex ensured their supporters would have not switched off from following online long before the closing stages was largely down to the efforts of Stevie Eskinazi, whose 77 from 44 balls lifted him to the top of the Blast run-scorers list. Joe Cracknell, on Blast debut, signalled his ability by cracking Jamie Overton on to the roof of the scorers’ box at deep midwicket – leaving a visible dent just below Father Time – during a spirited outing at No. 3, while John Simpson and Eskinazi combined to add 65 in 5.4 overs but Surrey always remained just out of reach.

Will Jacks, who had produced a smash-and-grab half-century to fire Surrey with the bat, burgled his way through four overs for 23 – by far the most economical return of the night – and left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty produced another impressive showing in his debut season. When Overton turned in his follow through to run Eskinazi out, with 61 needed from 18 balls, the jig was up.

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“We’re really happy. [It’s a] London derby, we’ve been playing well coming in, and we knew a win could take us top,” Jacks said. “It was a really important game with a couple of teams on our tail. We’ve been gradually improving, got a few wins under our belt and this was a really good performance.”

Having successfully defended a total of 142 at this ground on Saturday, it was a curiosity that Middlesex on this occasion decided to chase, albeit on a hybrid pitch that played well throughout. Pretty soon it was their bowlers receiving a chasing, as Hashim Amla stroked his first and fourth balls to the boundary, 10 runs coming off Tom Helm’s opening over. Amla and Jacks, velvet glove and iron fist, had soon jounced along to 59 without loss from the Powerplay and the tone of the innings was set.

Jacks demonstrated his clean-striking with sixes over extra cover off both Tim Murtagh and Helm and it was not until the eighth over that Middlesex managed to get through an over without conceding a boundary. Luke Hollman did not get off lightly, however, as his next saw Jacks begin a trend for losing the ball by planting successive deliveries into the building site at the Nursery End. Not so much under construction as demolition job, the second a straight hit over the sightscreen to bring up a 26-ball fifty.

It was Amla and Jacks who propelled Surrey to their first win of the season in all formats (after five defeats, a no-result and a tie), against Hampshire at The Oval 11 days ago, and they extended their opening stand into three figures before the latter picked out long-off to give Nathan Sowter the breakthrough – Hollman clutching the ball gratefully at the second attempt.

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Amla, magic in the old wand still, skipped out to loft Hollman, Middlesex’s highly-regarded young leggie, just beyond the rope at extra cover to move to his own half-century, from 37 balls. The former South Africa international swept Sowter, normally Middlesex’s thriftiest bowler during the middle overs, for six more in the 14th but was then bowled aiming a less-cultured hack later in the same over.

Still Surrey kept coming, England Test opener Rory Burns dinging another ball into the concrete and necessitating a replacement as Martin Andersson was left with figures of 0.1 for 11 after his first two deliveries were deemed no-balls. Andersson’s over eventually cost 21 but none of the Middlesex attack was left unscathed, with only Murtagh and Hollman managing to go at less than 10 an over.

Steven Finn had probably long begun to question the wisdom of bowling first when he ran in to deliver the final over. Overton pulverised 21 runs from it, including perhaps the biggest blow of the night into the hospitality boxes in the Grandstand (where it will likely remain until next March) as Surrey streaked past 200 and on to their joint second-highest total in London derbies. Had it been a possibility, they would have gone a long way to silencing the crowd.

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