AB De Villiers sparkled on debut as Middlesex started the 2019 Vitality blast with a seven-wicket win over Essex at Lord’s.
The South African great thrilled a packed house at the home of cricket with a match-winning 88 from just 43 balls as the hosts chased down a target of 165 with ease.
De Villiers’ innings was a mix of class and belligerence, containing five sixes and six fours and it ensured Middlesex avoided a ninth successive defeat in the format, chasing down 165 with three overs to spare.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman took the new ball for Middlesex as he had done in the World Cup for Afghanistan, but it was Tom Helm (three for 27) who made the initial incisions, getting Varun Chopra and Cameron Delport caught in the deep off successive deliveries.
Tom Westley launched an impressive counter offensive, seven fours taking him to 40 before Nathan Sowter (two for 32) trapped him LBW.
The Australian leg-spinner also accounted for Dan Lawrence, caught by George Scott after De Villiers had palmed the ball back from the boundary.
At 73 for four Middlesex were in the ascendancy but Nick Gubbins dropped Ryan Ten Doeschate on the boundary when he had made just 19.
It proved expensive as Ten Doeschate raced to 50 in 33 balls before helping plunder 19 from Steven Finn’s final over as the visitors posted an imposing 164 for six.
The hosts made a frenetic start with Paul Stirling being given two lives on five, Shane Snater dropping a simple caught and bowled before Delport juggled and grassed one at square leg off Adam Zampa.
Unlike Ten Doeschate, the Ireland international failed to make the most of the reprieves, nicking Matthew Quinn through to the wicketkeeper Adam Wheater to depart for 10.
Gubbins quickly followed, but De Villiers soon signalled his intent, flat-batting a four back over the bowler’s head and then hitting maximums in successive overs as he and skipper Dawid Malan raised the 50-stand in 33 balls.
De Villiers surged to 50 in 29 balls and Malan caught the mood, crunching Lawrence for four through cover before De Villiers almost deposited the same bowler onto the Grandstand roof.
The 100-partnership came at a rate of knots and though Malan (43) was stumped off Zampa with 20 needed, Middlesex stormed home with three overs to spare.
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
Know more about Sport360 Application