Captain Malan says Middlesex must learn from Royal London One-Day cup exit
PUBLISHED: 14:00 04 September 2019
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Middlesex must learn the lessons of their Royal London One-Day Cup exit to reach a first Twenty20 Finals Day for more than a decade.
That is the view of skipper Dawid Malan ahead of the Seaxes' trip to Trent Bridge to face Notts Outlaws in the second of this year's Vitality Blast quarter-finals on Thursday.
It marks Middlesex's second white-ball knockout game of the season after they came up short against Lancashire in the Royal London Cup play-off back in May.
Suffering with a groin problem, Malan was a frustrated onlooker that day, where he felt a lack of composure at the start of the run chase cost his side dearly.
"From watching, we didn't look like we handled the pressure when we were chasing 300 and Jimmy Anderson and Saqib Mahmood bowled a really good opening spell," he said. "We didn't soak that pressure up well enough to keep us in the game.
"With any play-off game it's the team who handles the pressure that wins those small moments which make the big difference between winning and losing."
It is a stark indication of Middlesex's dearth of success in white-ball formats since lifting the T20 trophy back in 2008, that the clash with the Outlaws will mark 32-year-old Malan's first appearance for his county in a one-day game at Trent Bridge.
Their most recent visit was for a Totesport 45-over affair back in 2005.
They travel off the back of a record successful run-chase at Taunton last Friday, so the batsmen are in form should the famous Test match arena live up to its reputation for producing run fests.
Scores have been smaller there so far this year, but either way Malan feels it's the bowlers who hold the key to a Finals Day ticket.
"We've done a bit of homework already looking at the scores and they haven't been as high this year at Trent Bridge as we're used to seeing," Malan continued.
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"Whether they've been playing on used wickets because of the World Cup and keeping a fresh pitch for when it's needed, we'll find out when we get there.
"We know it's always a good enough wicket to score runs and it's a tough ground to defend on historically, so our bowlers will have a tough night if it's a good wicket.
"But that's part of Twenty 20. Usually, it's the team that bowls best wins the game. Very rarely is it just because a team has out-batted someone."
Extra motivation to keep this season's trophy hopes alive may have come with the news Paul Stirling is to leave Middlesex at the end of the season to prolong his international career with Ireland.
For Malan, it means losing not only one of his longest standing team-mates, but also his opening partner in white-ball formats.
Consequently, he knows better than most what Middlesex stand to lose by Stirling's departure and says winning the Vitality Blast would be the perfect send-off.
"It would be awesome to say goodbye to Paul by winning the trophy," he added.
"He's helped me a hell of a lot with my cricket over the last couple of years. He has been the perfect sort of partner for me; we dovetail together.
"Where I'm strong he's weak and where I'm weak he's strong, so we help each other out in those partnerships.
"From Paul's point of view, it's obviously been a really tough decision and he has been panicking about it a little bit the last couple of months.
"I think he hasn't been sure what way he has wanted to go for a while, but you know, it's really tough to turn down international cricket.
"Stirlo's going to be a massive loss for us at Middlesex. He has been a great team man, player and servant."