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Superstars hit form for $20m game

Stanford Super Series, Antigua: Stanford Superstars 173-4 (20 ovs) bt Middlesex 115 all out (17.3 ovs) by 58 runs
By Paul Fletcher

Andre Fletcher finished with 90 off 66 balls
Fletcher smashed seven sixes during his brilliant innings

The Stanford Superstars thrashed Middlesex by 58 runs to send a signal of intent in their final game before Saturday's $20m match with England.

Andre Fletcher smashed an undefeated 90 as the Superstars reached 173-4 on a wicket that looked a vast improvement on the surfaces previously used.

The Superstars hit 14 sixes, with Kieron Pollard smashing three in succession in the final over.

Middlesex were dismissed for 155, with Eoin Morgan top scoring with 22.

While the previous games in Antigua have been relatively low scoring, the impressive Superstars scored freely in the second half of their innings.

Fletcher played the innings of the series so far with an exhibition of clean hitting down the ground, while Kieron Pollard showed brutal power in the final overs to suggest that England will have their work cut out on Saturday.

Middlesex skipper Shaun Udal said after the match: "England have a tough game on their hands.

"It looks like the batting of both sides is very strong. The Superstars hit some huge sixes so do not be surprised if there is an upset."

Superstars captain Chris Gayle failed to score, falling victim to a delivery that hardly bounced at all, but after the game he said: "It was a brilliant team performance by the guys and we are really looking forward to playing England."


And there were further indications that the problems that have undermined the series so far have been addressed ahead of Saturday's big-money match.

The outfield had clearly been cut while neither team seemed to experience difficulties seeing the ball, with Darren Sammy and Ramnaresh Sarwan taking brilliant catches in the deep.

Unfortunately, the match was not much of a contest, with Middlesex, looking to avoid a third straight defeat in Antigua, steadily losing wickets and never threatening the Superstars' imposing total.

Ed Joyce was bowled after a short ball bounced off his shoulder and down on to the stumps, Neil Dexter was the victim of a brilliant caught and bowled off Rayad Emrit, Andrew Strauss was clean bowled and Tyrone Henderson caught in the deep as wickets tumbled.

Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan put on 36 before the latter was caught trying an audacious flick, while Ben Scott fell to an awesome catch by Sammy at deep midwicket.

Malan was run out by Chris Gayle after a suicidal call from captain Udal and the skipper was then bowled by Cush.

A scrambled single eventually raised three figures but Dave Mohammad took the wickets of Tim Murtagh and Alan Richardson in successive deliveries to cap a good display in which Cush, Powell and Sammy also took two wickets.

Earlier in the day Middlesex had opted to field after winning the toss and were briefly in the ascendancy.

The second delivery of the match, sent down by Murtagh, trapped Gayle leg before without the Superstars captain troubling the scorers.

Fletcher would have been run out next ball at the non-striker's end, but the throw was narrowly wide.

However, having survived the run out scare, Fletcher then smashed three of the seven maximums in his innings, before he lost batting partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who was caught behind.

The Stanford Superstars celebrate taking another wicket
It was a night of celebration for the dominant Superstars

Middlesex started to exert a degree of control and the Superstars laboured to 51-2 off nine overs.

And Middlesex must have been delighted when the third of the Stanford team's seasoned international players - Sarwan - holed out off Udal in the following over.

Undeterred, Fletcher smashed another massive six over long on to raise his 50 - the first of the tournament - with Malan again the victim.

Fletcher then proceeded to hammer the Middlesex attack to all corners, with Sylvester Joseph joining the act by smashing the ball 105 metres for an enormous maximum.

Another huge six from Joseph raised the 50 partnership in just 36 balls but he was caught in the deep by Strauss in the 18th over having scored a useful 29.

His departure brought Pollard to the wicket and he clubbed 27 off nine balls, as the Stanford team finished with an impressive total.

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see also
Mihir Bose blog
30 Oct 08 |  Cricket
ECB plans Stanford Series review
29 Oct 08 |  England
England see off Middlesex threat
27 Oct 08 |  England
England hold nerve to clinch win
28 Oct 08 |  England
Antigua lights concern Pietersen
27 Oct 08 |  England
Middlesex ready to punch weight
24 Oct 08 |  Middlesex
Stanford's 20/20 for $20m
22 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Stanford Super Series fixtures
29 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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