Essex 297 for 4 (Bopara 82*) beat Middlesex 296 for 5 (Gubbins 96, Franklin 63) by five wickets

Essex moved within touching distance of a place in the quarter-finals of the Royal London Cup when they inflicted a six-wicket defeat on Middlesex in their Group B match at Colchester.

Replying to a total of 296 for 5, they reached their target with 17 balls to spare, with Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara both completing half-centuries. Nick Browne and Jesse Ryder also made their presence felt with 38 runs each as they made full use of a pitch and bowling both of which were of a friendly nature.

Westley, fresh from his half-century in the victory against Hampshire less than 24 hours earlier, shared in half-centuries with both Browne and Bopara before he departed lbw to Neil Dexter after making 56 from 67 balls..

Ryder, displaying his usual aggression, collected his runs from 28 balls before he was magnificently caught by a leaping Gurjit Sandhu at mid-off to provide spinner Ollie Rayner with success. His runs came in a stand of 51 in 7 overs with Bopara.

Once he had departed, Bopara and skipper Ryan ten Doeschate were able to reach the winning post in some comfort with an unbroken stand of 96 in 12 overs. Bopara finished with 82 from 88 balls with 5 fours and 1 six.

Earlier, Nick Gubbins confirmed his rich promise with a fluent 96 with power and authority after Middlesex had been put into bat. He was eventually caught by Westley on the deep mid-wicket boundary, attacking Reece Topley.

But the real momentum for Middlesex was provided by James Franklin who has taken over the captaincy whilst Eoin Morgan has been given a two-week rest. The New Zealander was quick to seize upon any loose delivery as he made 63 from 41 balls. He eventually holed out to ten Doeschate at deep mid-off to provide Topley with his second success.

Sam Robson and Andrew Balbirnie gathered 46 and 41 respectively to give Essex a sizeable challenge. In the end, it was one that never seriously tested them as they eased their way to 297 for 4 and a fourth victory in this season's competition.