Willoughby fells Middlesex with crucial wickets

Leicestershire 159-6 - Middlesex 140-7 Leicestershire win by 19 runs
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The Independent Online

What's more, they will fancy their chances of successfully defending their title after an unlikely victory over Middlesex in the quarter-finals last night again emphasised their liking for the short game.

A score of 159 for 6 from their 20 overs after Middlesex had asked them to bat looked precariously small against a side possessing the season's most prolific batsman, but an exceptional spell of new ball bowling from South African left-armer Charl Willoughby dealt the visitors what turned out to be three decisive blows.

Willoughby could not have had a better start, removing danger man Owais Shah with his first delivery.

Willoughby followed that by dismissing Ed Smith, bowled off an inside edge in his next over, and when Paul Weekes drove him straight to mid-off he had figures of 3 for 2. He could not quite manage an economy record but 3 for 11 from four overs is fairly impressive, especially when one considers that England's Matthew Hoggard conceded 63 in an earlier match.

James Dalrymple and Scott Styris did as much as they could to put their side back in with a chance, their partnership adding 87 in 10 overs before Dalrymple holed out to long-off. But Middlesex were still left to score 54 off the last four overs, which always seemed a tall order, even though Styris continued to score heavily.

The New Zealander finished unbeaten on 73, but both Ed Joyce and Ben Hutton fell cheaply and Leicestershire's winning margin of 19 was much more comfortable than they could have foreseen after their own innings had run out of steam.

l Somerset's opener Matthew Wood steered his side into the Twenty20 Cup semi-finals at Northampton with a six-wicket win. Wood made a patient 58 as the West Country side passed the Northamptonshire total in the final over.