Stevie Eskinazi, Nick Gubbins steer Middlesex to comfortable victory
Eskinazi scores maiden one-day century, while Gubbins strikes unbeaten 98
Middlesex 287 for 4 (Eskinazi 107*, Gubbins 98*) beat Gloucestershire 283 for 7 (Bracey 83, Howell 55) by six wickets
Stevie Eskinazi's first century in one-day cricket led Middlesex to a comfortable six-wicket win over Gloucestershire at Lord's.
In the week he qualified through residency to represent England, the South African-born 25 year old - who also spent time playing for youth sides in Australia - struck a mature 107 not out as he and England Lion Nick Gubbins shared an unbroken stand of 184. Their partnership eclipsed the team's competition record for the fifth wicket set by Eoin Morgan and Neil Dexter against Surrey five years ago. Gubbins was 98 not out after striking the winning boundary.
Given Middlesex's success batting first in their opening-day win over Essex, Dawid Malan's decision to bowl under a cloudless sky looked a curious one. There was early vindication, however, when Tim Murtagh brought one back off the seam to trap George Hankins lbw with just 11 runs on the board and it might have been worse for the visitors had Malan not spilled opposite number Chris Dent just one run later.
The Gloucester skipper looked set to cash in on the reprieve, moving smoothly to 47 and sharing a 65-run stand with wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick, only to throw his wicket away, top edging a pull shot off Toby Roland-Jones (2 for 59) into the hands of Tom Helm at long leg.
Roderick (38) too failed to make the most of a good start when cutting one too close to him, John Simpson taking the catch behind the stumps.
James Bracey (83) and Benny Howell, though, settled down to dominate the middle overs, the former endangering occupants of the Mound and Tavern stands where he deposited four sixes. Howell, meanwhile, proved the perfect foil, keeping the scoreboard ticking over as the pair shared a century stand at a little over a run a ball.
At 212 for 4 with a little under 15 overs left, the men from the west Country looked set for a mammoth score, but Bracey faltered in sight of his century, smearing the excellent Murtagh to George Scott at deep cover.
Howell (55) continued on to his own half-century but, like others before him, then departed, caught down the leg-side off a wayward delivery from Roland-Jones.
Thereafter the innings lost its way, leaving Gloucestershire short of the 300-plus their start had suggested.
Middlesex began strongly, two towering sixes from Paul Stirling helping them to 28 off three overs. However, the Ireland international's dismissal to a lazy swish at a wide one from Matt Taylor sparked a slump.
Simpson was caught and bowled by Daniel Worrall without troubling the scorers and when the in-form Malan drove the same bowler to short cover the hosts were 36 for 3.
Morgan briefly led a counter-offensive, including a towering six, but when he was caught behind at 103 for 4 the visitors were well in charge. The robust cameo had put Middlesex ahead of the asking rate, meaning Eskinazi and Gubbins could rebuild patiently.
Their 50-stand came in 41 balls with Eskinazi first to 50 from 48, before Gubbins achieved the landmark from one ball fewer. The 100 partnership came from 86 balls by which time the momentum had swung the way of the Londoners and, growing in confidence, Eskinazi eased to a century as the win came with 7.4 overs to spare.