Allround Middlesex trounce Essex by 98 runs

Cordelia Griffith in action for Middlesex. © Getty Images

Olivia Rae’s maiden half-century and a combined effort from the bowlers helped Middlesex trounce Essex by 98 runs in their first match of the London Championship at Mill Hill School in Middlesex on Saturday (August 1). Having won the toss, the hosts piled up a total of 229 for 7, before the bowlers bundled out Essex for a mere 131.
Opener Cordelia Griffith set the tone for Middlesex with a fast-paced knock at the top of the order. While her fellow opener and skipper Naomi Dattani found the going tough – labouring to five off 22 balls – the right-hander kept the scoreboard moving with some exquisite strokeplay. As wickets continued to fall around her – three of Middlesex’s top four falling for single figure scores – Griffith did not curtail her aggressive instinct. She hit a total of six boundaries in her 58-ball knock before falling for 44 to Beth Dodd.
With her team in a spot of bother at 71 for 4 in 17.3 overs, Rae joined hands with allrounder Gayatri Gole. After a few quiet overs to start, the pair kept a steady rate through the middle overs, collecting singles and twos with regularity, and finding the boundary on the odd occasion. They hit a combined total of 11 boundaries in their 96-run fifth wicket stand that allowed the hosts to gain the ascendancy.
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Meanwhile, Rae brought up her half-century with a boundary off the bowling of Essex’s opening quick Grace Poole. With the the team looking to press the accelerator in the last 10 overs, the right-hander was dismissed by Hayley Browne for 56 off 85 deliveries. Gole (42) followed a couple of overs after, and it suddenly seemed as though the hosts had lost all their momentum.
However, Sonali Patel’s run-a-ball 34 gave Middlesex the momentum they needed in the last few overs. The hosts collected 38 runs off the final five overs, to finish with a competitive total of 229 for 7, almost entirely thanks to their lower-middle order.
For Essex, Dodd was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2 for 38.
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The visitors never really got going in the chase, losing wickets from the very start. Skipper Kelly Castle’s (5) wicket in the fifth over began a procession as Essex were reduced to 69 for 7 in the 28th over.
Kate Midwood (23), Grace Melhuish (35) and Scarlett Hughes (24*) attempted to dig their heels in and make a fist of the chase, but there was little they could do to break Middlesex’s stranglehold. The pair of Melhuish and Hughes shared a promising 60-run stand for the eighth wicket, but by then the damage had been done.
Bhavika Gajipra, who removed Midwood to get on the scoreboard, returned to clean up Essex’s tail as the visitors were dismissed for 131 in 45.3 overs – well short of the 230-run target. Gajipra was Middlesex’s most successful bowler with figures of 3 for 23 in 9.3 overs. Skipper Dattani and Emily Thorpe chipped in with two wickets each.
Brief scores: Middlesex 229/7 in 50 overs (Olivia Rae 56, Cordelia Griffith 44; Beth Dodd 2-38) beat Essex 131 in 45.3 overs (Grace Melhuish 35, Scarlett Hughes 24*; Bhavika Gajipra 3-23, Naomi Dattani 2-20) by 98 runs.