Middlesex v Kent, Friends Life t20, Uxbridge June 24, 2011

Stirling blitz enough for Middlesex

Middlesex 79 for 1 beat Kent 149 for 3 by 28 runs (D/L method)

Ireland batsman Paul Stirling led Middlesex to only their second win in nine Friends Life t20 matches this season as they beat southern section rivals Kent by 28 runs on a cold, wet night in Uxbridge.

The umpires finally called it a day after playing on in pouring rain for the last 10 overs of the Kent innings and the first eight overs of the Middlesex reply, by which time the hosts had reached 79 for 1 which was good enough for victory under the Duckworth/Lewis method.

Kent had made 149 for 3 with Joe Denly hitting an unbeaten 84 and sharing an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 96 with Martin van Jaarsveld but it was all to no avail once Stirling launched his ferocious assault. The 20-year-old hit 51 off 23 balls, including four sixes and five fours.

Middlesex had put Kent into bat and bowled well to restrict them to 53 for 3 in the first 10 overs. Anthony Ireland had Rob Key caught at mid-on in his second over and Tom Smith, the left-arm spinner, took two wickets in successive overs.

Smith had the dangerous Azhar Mahmood, who hit a century off 54 balls against Gloucestershire last week, stumped off his second ball and then circled to his right to hold a fine, tumbling catch when Darren Stevens got a steepling top edge.

Middlesex did not take another wicket, however, as Denly and Van Jaarsveld took control. Denly made his 84 off 64 balls with two sixes and eight fours while Van Jaarsveld hit five fours in his 43 off 32 balls.

It was obvious by then that the match would not go the distance and, though Middlesex got off to a poor start when Adam Rossington, an 18-year-old batsman making his Twenty20 debut, was lbw first ball to Mahmood, Stirling soon had them ahead of the required scoring rate.

The Kent bowlers were clearly handicapped by the wet ball but it was still an exhilarating exhibition of clean hitting from Stirling.