Bob Willis Trophy: Joe Weatherley steers Hampshire to win over Middlesex

Joe Weatherley batting for Hampshire
Joe Weatherley only managed two half-centuries for Hampshire in last summer's County Championship
Bob Willis Trophy, Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence (day four):
Middlesex 252 & 201: Gubbins 46; Organ 4-42
Hampshire 296-9 & 161-7: Weatherley 64*, Barker 28*; Walallawita 3-28
Hampshire (21 pts) beat Middlesex (5 pts) by 3 wickets

Hampshire survived a middle-order collapse to beat Middlesex by three wickets and pick up their first win in the Bob Willis Trophy.

Joe Weatherley (64 not out) and Keith Barker (28 not out) rescued their seemingly faltering chase of 158 at Radlett with an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 53.

Resuming the last day on 60-2, needing 98 more runs to win, Hampshire slumped to 108-7 as Tim Murtagh (3-41) and Thilan Walallawita (3-28) got among the wickets.

But Weatherley added to his first-innings 98 with a patient knock in the company of Barker, eventually striking the winning runs with a cover drive for four soon after lunch.

Hampshire's collapse in the morning session had looked even more perilous due to the absence of all-rounder Liam Dawson, who ruptured his right Achilles tendon while batting in the first innings.

Seam bowler Ryan Stevenson was also a doubt to bat after he heavily gashed his shin on a marquee pole when chasing a boundary in the field on day three.

Sam Northeast departed in the first over of the day as Max Holden clung on to a chance at point after Murtagh struck the shoulder of the bat.

Murtagh was in the wickets again at 85-4 having Ian Holland caught at third slip by Nathan Sowter and a couple of overs later, Harry Came fell to the Ireland international in almost identical fashion, this time to Sam Robson's diving catch, making it 87-5.

Weatherley stood firm at the other end and for a while had the company of wicketkeeper Lewis McManus (13), but the latter was bowled through his legs by Walallawita and James Fuller went cheaply soon after when he was caught behind to bring Barker to the crease.

Despite Barker carrying a visible injury which hampered his running between the wickets, he helped Weatherley complete his second half-century of the match off 159 balls with seven fours.

He then found the rope himself four times as Middlesex's chances to snatch a second win from their first two games ebbed away.

Weatherley drove Tom Helm to the boundary for the winning runs and Hampshire were much relieved to come away with 21 points for the victory.

They will now host Surrey at Arundel on Saturday, while Middlesex travel to Canterbury to play Kent.

Middlesex captain Stevie Eskinazi:

"We'll look back on periods, namely when they were about 30-3 in their first innings and we dropped a couple of chances and could have bowled them out for about 150.

"Then when we were over 100-2, we had the game by the scruff of the neck and couldn't quite hammer home the advantage.

"The bowlers did a great job getting us back into the game, but hats off to Joe Weatherley and Keith Barker for coming out and playing the way they did. Sides bat deep, we know that, but we knew we had the bowling attack - they've done it for us on countless occasions and we thought, on that wicket, we had enough runs."

Hampshire captain Sam Northeast:

"It was a hard-fought four days and we just about deserved it in the end. At one stage Middlesex were on top and favourites to win, but it was a fantastic partnership from Weathers and Barks to get us over the line.

"Joe Weatherley's played two fantastic innings. He's really showing his potential for the future for Hampshire, which is great. Barks, with his little cameo at the end, was just what was needed to release a little bit of pressure.

"You sort of forget the first three days when it comes down to tight moments like that. We've obviously lost two key members of our side during the game as well and it wasn't easy, but I'm very pleased to win."

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