‘Fantastic’ Dawson’s miserly spell and another opening partnership record help Hampshire climb off bottom of Vitality Blast group by thrashing Middlesex at Radlett
The left-arm spinner – who was carted for 54 runs in last year’s Blast at Radlett and suffered an Achilles tear on the same ground in 2020 – enjoyed better fortunes this time as he sent down four consecutive overs that strangled Middlesex’s innings.
The home side were restricted to 142-7 – and Hawks’ openers Ben McDermott and James Vince made short work of the modest target with their second century partnership in as many matches.
McDermott blazed 83 from just 30 deliveries, including nine sixes, as he and Vince shared a whirlwind stand of 132, with the skipper hitting an unbeaten 54 from 37 to see his side across the line with a full eight overs unused.
It was the second time in four days that McDermott and Vince had set a new record for the highest opening stand in Hampshire T20 history, having put on 124 against Sussex last Saturday.
Having won the toss and put Middlesex in, the Hawks’ powerplay seamers all bowled accurately – although home skipper Stephen Eskinazi (21) lifted the tempo with successive leg-side sixes off Scott Currie.
However, after Eskinazi gave Chris Wood the charge and picked out the long-off fielder, that momentum faded, with Joe Cracknell holing out cheaply and Max Holden – who produced some classy shots in his knock of 35 – drilling James Fuller to mid-off.
Fuller (1-21) and Dawson squeezed the life out of the innings during the middle overs, with Middlesex failing to register a single boundary in 34 deliveries and shedding wickets at regular intervals.
Three of those fell to the spinner – the pick of them a delivery that skidded on to take out Chris Green’s middle stump – and, at 94-6, the home side looked in some danger of failing to complete their allocation of overs.
A spirited stand of 48 between Jack Davies (34) and Martin Andersson, undefeated on 25, prevented that and steered Middlesex towards respectability, but their total never looked likely to be enough.
Vince set the tone when Hampshire replied, depositing Thilan Walallawita’s first two deliveries over the infield for four and six, while the pugnacious McDermott smashed his compatriot Jason Behrendorff over the fence twice in an over.
McDermott followed that up by hammering two more sixes off Andersson to take his side beyond 50 in only the fifth over, with Middlesex’s bowlers struggling to rein the Australian in to any degree.
A powerful cover boundary off Luke Hollman brought up McDermott’s half-century from just 20 balls and he guided Hampshire to the verge of victory before falling to Eskinazi’s superbly-judged catch, leaping back to take a skier at mid-off.
But two boundaries by Vince in Andersson’s next over completed back-to-back wins for the Hawks, who began the tournament with four straight defeats.
McDermott said: ‘We’re starting to play more positive cricket and the boys bowled fantastically.
‘It’s well known how small the ground is here and normally how good a wicket it is, but in the middle we thought it was actually a par score on that wicket.
‘Liam Dawson was fantastic throughout the middle period and the other guys chipped in as well – it was a good performance all round.
‘We got off to a good powerplay and I just thought ‘I’m going to keep going here’ and try and kill the game, which I was lucky enough to do.
‘I sort of mishit a couple of those for six and got a bit lucky at times with the wind swirling around and making the boundary even shorter.
We’ve got to get on a little bit of a roll now and keep winning games.’
Middlesex skipper Eskinazi remarked: ‘Two international-quality players had a big day (for Hampshire) and we weren’t at the races, probably from ball one.
‘We were out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded in every respect and we have to put it behind us pretty quickly and go again.
‘There’s an expectation we go out and perform more often than we don’t, but we’re going to have to do a hell of a lot more right on Thursday (against Surrey) and going forward if we’re going to start taking more points.
‘There’s no room for baggage in this competition at all and that works both ways. You’re not a gun side because you’ve won three in a row and you’re not a bad side because you’ve lost three in a row.’
Hampshire host Essex at The Ageas Bowl tomorrow evening.