Middlesex maximum record shot down by the Spitfires

MIDDLESEX came crashing to earth with a bump on Monday at Lord’s as their perfect start to the season was halted by Kent.

The Lord’s county held a 100 per cent record ahead of the Clydesdale Bank 40 clash, with three County Championship victories and two 40-over successes under their belt.

But the Panthers’ run was comprehensively ended as Kent coasted to an eight-wicket victory with nine overs to spare.

Middlesex never really got going, although Paul Stirling (17) hit three quick boundaries and Scott Newman anchored the innings with 49.

Ollie Rayner (23) and Anthony Ireland, with an unbeaten 22, at least ensured that the Panthers made full use of their 40 overs, but a total of 176-9 never looked like being enough.

Kent captain Robert Key fell early to Tim Murtagh but, apart from Corey Collymore, whose seven overs went for just 18, the home bowlers were unable to maintain much control.

Martin van Jaarsveld bludgeoned 85 in a second-wicket stand of 119 with Sam Northeast, who finished undefeated on 63 as the Spitfires landed with ease.

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The previous day, Middlesex had held off a stirring fightback from the Netherlands to triumph by just one run after Mudassar Bukhari, needing three off the last ball, could only manage a single.

The Panthers built a commanding position as Newman (73) and Dawid Malan (90) put on 120 for the first wicket and Stirling added a breezy 45 before some improvised shots from Rayner (21 not out) took the home side to 286-5.

The Dutch soon fell behind the required run-rate and lost both openers to run-outs by Toby Roland-Jones before Rayner (1-36) pegged them back to 78-3.

But Australian batsman Tom Cooper (126no) joined forces with Tom de Grooth (58) in a stand of 126 that threatened to swing the match before Stirling (2-38) held a return catch to dismiss de Grooth.

Cooper found a new ally in Bukhari (36no) and, despite needing 60 from the last four overs, the pair took the contest to the wire, but Murtagh held his nerve.