Jun 26 2011 By Jon Batham
Middlesex (79-1) beat Kent (149-3) by 21 runs - Twenty20
PAUL Stirling made sure it was not just the rain which proved a hazard to car drivers around Uxbridge Cricket Club on Friday evening.
Drivers in Park Road found cricket balls dropping from leaden skies when the Middlesex opener smote two huge sixes out of the Gatting Way ground as Middlesex won a rain-affected T20 game with Kent to lift themselves off the bottom of the South table.
Stirling hit two more sixes, one clean over the sightscreen, and five fours in racing to 50 off just 22 balls to leave Middlesex well ahead of the Duckworth Lewis par score chasing 150 for victory when rain brought an early finish.
The 20-year-old Irishman admitted he had taken out his frustration on the spitfires’ bowlers after a T20 campaign which had promised much but delivered little.
He said: "It hasn’t been going my way recently so it is nice to finally get a few runs on the board,
"It is fair to say over the last couple of years I’ve been getting 20s, 30s and 40s and it is about time I started pushing on to get the bigger scores.
"Hopefully tonight is the little bit of experience I needed to go on over the next couple of years to score runs more heavily and become a better player."
The Panthers began the evening propping up the rest after seven defeats in eight and three unsuccessful run chases in a row.
However, with rain always likely to produce an early finish skipper Neil Dexter chose to field on winning the toss,, and they were rewarded with a maiden over for starters from Steven Crook.
And things got even better when Anthony Ireland struck in the fourth over as Robert Key skied one to mid-on and Tom Smith took a comfortable catch.
It was the start of a good evening for Smith as the left-arm spinner went on have Azhar Mahmood (10) stumped and then caught and bowled Darren Stevens off another skier for six to return figures of 2-26.
That left the spitfires 53-3 in the 10th over, but Joe Denly went on to hit 84 not out in 64 balls sharing an unbroken stand of 96 with Martin Van Jaarsveld (43) for the fourth wicket.
The duo hit out well over the last four overs played in increasing rain, taking 21 off one over from Tim Murtagh.
The rain eased for the start of the Middlesex reply, which began badly as Adam Rossington on his T20 debut was LBW to Mahmood first ball.
However, it was the cue for Stirling’s swashbuckling effort and with Scott Newman(24) providing strong support, Middlesex were 79-1 off eight overs when rain drove the players from the field.