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Craig hat-trick can’t prevent defeat for MCC

A brilliant hat-trick from Somerset’s Craig Overton was not enough for the MCC as Middlesex chased down 305 to win a thrilling Champion County game by one wicket in Abu Dhabi with a day to spare. 

John Simpson played the decisive innings, navigating choppy waters with 89 not out, including the winning runs.

The day got off to a good start for Middlesex, with Tom Helm cleaning up the final two MCC wickets – Overton bowled and Jack Leach, top-edging a pull. The absence of the injured Liam Plunkett meant Middlesex needed 305 to win, a stiff target even in good batting conditions. 

Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson shared 43 for the opening wicket but Robson’s attacking intent got the better of him as he picked out Alex Lees at mid-on, who took a fine running catch to give Leach a wicket.

Gubbins kicked on in the company of Nick Compton, who had been dropped on 0, and the pair both made half-centuries before falling to the legspin of Mason Crane. Compton was in a particularly aggressive mood, driving down the ground and through the covers before he too picked out mid-on. By then, Gubbins had been trapped lbw and Dawid Malan bowled by Lewis Gregory, who had a superb game with bat and ball. 

Still, Middlesex appeared to be cruising as Stevie Eskinazi, who recorded a duck in the first innings, and Simpson shared a composed 84 to take them within 63 of victory. 

Enter Overton and Gregory who returned to the attack. Overton began his over with three dot balls to Eskinaz, roughing the young batsman up, he got one to nip back fiercely and pin him on the back pad, with the umpire in no doubt that it was lbw. Then a good length ball left James Franklin and he edged behind for a pair, then a full, straight delivery was too good for James Harris and Overton wheeled away in celebration of his hat-trick.

Either side of the dinner break Harry Podmore kept Simpson company, hanging around until Crane returned and had him caught behind. Soon enough Helm had been caught at cover, Crane had four and Middlesex had just one wicket standing and still needed five to win.

Simpson was patient and finally led his side to victory.

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