Middlesex tasted victory in the Twenty20 Cup for the first time this year, and Essex their first defeat.
Middlesex carried their impressive one-day form into Twenty20 cricket to inflict a nine-wicket defeat on Essex in a low-scoring but one-sided affair at Southgate.
Paul Weekes and Owais Shah reached the target of 121 with 10 balls to spare, having added 99 for the second wicket to give Middlesex their first win in the 2004 competition and Essex their first loss.
The Walker Ground pitch proved slow and difficult to bat on, so the public address system, which blasts out music to accompany the big hits, was underused and the 3,000-strong crowd enjoyed few opportunities to whoop and wave, reducing the atmosphere to one of unusual restraint.
Twenty20 matches usually get off to a frenzied start so maybe it was a sign of things to come when Andy Flower and Ronnie Irani, who were put into bat, recorded four dot balls before opening Essex's account and it was not until the 14th over that the ball finally cleared the boundary rope.
Flower hung around for 18 overs but struck just three fours while watching as his partners came and went. On the day he was selected in England's squad for the ICC Champions Trophy, Graham Napier had a day to forget, departing first ball to Simon Cook. It was Cook's second wicket in two balls after he had Irani caught at backward point but he was unable to complete the hat-trick. Lance Klusener also took two in two when he removed James Foster and Flower.
Without the injured Chad Keegan, Middlesex may have struggled for wickets but part-timer Ben Hutton chipped in with two valuable wickets.
Having watched Essex struggle, Middlesex chose the patience game and after Andrew Strauss was sent packing by Darren Gough, Weekes and Shah waited for the wide or bad ball. Weekes struck four sixes from 65 balls for his 55, while Owais Shah hit two sixes and five fours for an unbeaten 48.
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