Shah returns to defeat Middlesex
Essex 155 for 5 beat Middlesex 150 for 5 by five wickets
Owais Shah earned a measure of revenge over former county Middlesex as he blazed a half-century to guide Essex to a five-wicket Friends Life t20 win at Lord's. He hit an unbeaten 78 from 50 balls, including five sixes and five fours, to guide his team home with 11 balls to spare.
Shah, who spent 15 years at Middlesex before he was surprising released last season, produced some sublime timing and footwork to ease Essex to their second win while his former county remain winless.
Chasing 151 for victory, the Eagles made a disastrous start losing openers Ravi Bopara and Mark Pettini without scoring before Shah dictated matters. The 32-year-old initially found support from Matt Walker, in a stand of 33 for the third wicket, before he teamed with Ryan ten Doeschate in a brisk 44-run stand in five overs.
When Ten Doeschate was trapped leg before to spinner Tom Smith for 17, the game was nicely poised with the Eagles 78 for 4 at the halfway stage. Scott Styris then departed cheaply, stumped off Smith, but captain James Foster joined Shah in a match-winning partnership of 67 from 34 balls. Foster finished unbeaten on 30 from 18 balls with four boundaries.
Having completed their 20 overs with the scoreboard showing 148 for 5, the Panthers were credited with an additional two runs when coaches Angus Fraser and Paul Grayson agreed six had incorrectly been credited as just a four.
Neil Dexter top-scored for the home side with a well-constructed 32 and was supported by 29 from John Simpson. Australian opener Chris Rogers also added 25 but none of the home batsmen could find the necessary impetus against an attack that maintained control throughout.
New Zealander Tim Southee returned figures of 3 for 21 for the visitors whilst the competition's leading bowler this season, left-arm spinner Tim Phillips claimed the wicket of Dexter to take his early tally into double figures.