ESSEX eased to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Leicestershire in their bottom of the table Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A clash at Chelmsford.
In a match reduced to 25 overs each because of rain, the hosts surpassed Leicestershire’s 151 for seven with nine deliveries to spare.
Owais Shah led the way for Essex with an unbeaten 45 from 46 deliveries, which included three fours and a six.
The foundation had been laid by openers Mark Pettini and Tom Westley who shared in a stand of 62 in nine overs before both fell to medium-pacer Wayne White.
Westley fell lbw to the last ball of his first over for 27, while with the first delivery of White’s next over, Pettini put up a simple catch to Robbie Joseph at short extra cover.
Greg Smith made 20 while helping Shah carry the total to 102 in the 19th over, at which point he was superbly taken low down by Rob Taylor at deep square leg.
Essex arrived at the final five overs still requiring 42 but Shah then stepped up a couple of gears to help see them home.
He took successive fours off medium-pacer Michael Thornely before despatching Nathan Buck for an on-driven six.
Then Ryan ten Doeschate maintained the tempo, sealing victory with three successive boundaries at the expense of Buck.
Although White emerged as the visitors’ most successful bowler with two wickets for 17 runs from four overs, it was left-arm spinner James Sykes who impressed the most — the 20-year-old’s five overs cost only 15.
Leicestershire’s innings owed much to Thornely. Fresh from his century in the LV= County Championship battle between the two counties, the 24-year-old right-hander again batted with a confident assurance that brought him 55 from 53 balls.
The pick of his shots was a towering six over long-on off the bowling of left-arm spinner Tim Phillips.
Thornely had also laced his innings with four fours until he was brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary — Graham Napier racing 20 yards and diving to cling on to the ball inches off the ground.
Of the other batsmen, only Matthew Boyce topped 20, before he drove Napier into the hands of extra cover in the final over when on 24.
Essex, who put their opponents into bat, used seven bowlers, the most successful of whom was off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
The Indian took three for 29 from five overs and among his victims was opener Ramnaresh Sarwan, who needed 22 deliveries to gather 14 runs until he holed out to Phillips on the midwicket boundary.
Greg Smith was another top-order batsman who failed to out his foot on the accelerator, requiring 28 balls to make 18. Smith was also caught on the midwicket boundary, this time by Singh, when he decided to open his shoulders against ten Doeschate.