Unicorns slide to sixth straight loss
Essex 184 for 2 beat Unicorns 183 for 9 by eight wickets
Essex condemned Unicorns to their sixth Clydesdale Bank 40 defeat in as many matches as they coasted to an eight-wicket victory in today's Group C match at Chelmsford.
After restricting their opponents to a modest 183 for 9, Essex triumphed with 14 balls to spare to preserve their season's unbeaten record in the competition. An unbroken third-wicket partnership of 149 between opener Mark Pettini and Matt Walker, both of who scored half-centuries, saw the hosts home after Adam Wheater was caught at slip without scoring and Owais Shah fell victim to an unlucky dismissal with the total on 35.
Shah, making his debut for the county following his return from the Indian Premier League, had made 13 when he was run out - bowler Dan Wheeldon deflecting a straight drive from Pettini onto the stumps with the batsman out of his ground.
That was the last time the Unicorns had anything to celebrate, with Pettini and Walker underlining the gulf in class between the two sides. Pettini stroked his way to 88 runs from 106 balls, including nine fours and a six, while Walker's 71 from 94 deliveries contained eight fours.
Paceman Wheeldon was the pick of the Unicorns bowlers with figures of one for 25 from his eight overs, three of which were maidens. Former Hampshire batsman Chris Benham was the rock of the visitors' innings, hitting an unbeaten 54 from 85 balls, an effort that contained just three fours. Mike Thornley and Glen Querl were the other main contributors with 36 and 23 respectively.
Hopes of Unicorns setting Essex a testing challenge were dashed by Chris Wright, whose accuracy and hostility brought him figures of four wickets for 20 runs from eight overs. The pace bowler could have reaped a richer harvest, beating the bat without reward on several occasions.
For good measure Wright also took a fine catch low down on the long-on boundary to remove Thornley and provide Lonwabo Tsotsobe with his only success at a cost of 39 runs. Left-arm spinner Tim Phillips picked up 2 for 33 from his eight overs, while 17-year-old Reece Topley and Graham Napier each finished with one wicket.
As the game unfolded, Essex were able to celebrate victory by the same margin as when the sides met a fortnight ago.