Bopara steers Essex to win
Ravi Bopara starred with bat and ball as Essex ended Middlesex's hopes of a quarter-final place in the Twenty20 Cup with a three-wicket win at Lord's.
Chasing just 127 they made it with a ball to spare after Murali Kartik turned in figures of five for 13 for the hosts and almost spurred his side to victory.
Bopara guided Essex home, making 46 not out from 37 balls, to add to his figures of two for 22.
Bopara settled the match in the last over, from which Essex needed 11, when he hit Tim Murtagh for six into the grandstand.
It was left to Varun Chopra to hit the winning runs.
Essex had made it up to 36 for one in the eighth over, and were looking fairly comfortable, when Kartik started to make inroads.
The Indian had Grant Flower stumped for 21, as the Zimbabwean charged down the wicket, and in his next over Adam Hollioake attempted the same trick and was similarly dismissed.
James Foster was caught brilliantly in the deep by Chad Keegan, running in from long-off and diving full stretch to take the ball close to the ground, for nine.
Foster could not believe that a quick bowler had managed such gymnastics in the outfield and had to drag himself off the pitch.
Kartik struck twice more, bowling Ryan ten Doeschate and drawing Andy Bichel down the track to give Ben Scott his third stumping but they had been let down by their batting earlier in the match.
Middlesex had got off to an appalling start when Andrew Strauss was out second ball, for the second successive time in this competition, caught acrobatically by Hollioake at short mid-wicket off Bichel.
Hollioake was at it again in the next over pouching a similar catch to get rid of Eoin Morgan, with Tony Palladino this time the bowler.
Nick Compton, coming in with his side 25 for four and in need of some consolidation, tried to manufacture shots and eventually perished when he steered Bopara's delivery into the hands of point for 17.
It was left to Murtagh and Keegan to get the Middlesex total even into the realms of competitiveness.
Murtagh made 40 not out, hitting six fours and a six from 24 balls, and Keegan 24 from 13 balls including one huge six off Bichel which he picked up off his legs and deposited into the Mound Stand.