Fletcher the Superstar
Youngster hits tournament's first half-century
Last Updated: October 31, 2008 8:49am
Fletcher: Unbeaten 90
Stanford Super Series
Middlesex 115 all out (D Mohammed 2-10) v Standford Superstars 173-4 (ADS Fletcher 90 no)
Stanford Superstars beat Middlesex by 58 runs
A tally of seven sixes in an unbeaten innings of 90 from Andre Fletcher proved the highlight as the Stanford Superstars eased into this weekend's big-money showdown against England with a 58-run victory against Middlesex.
The wicketkeeper-batsman made his total off only 66 balls to make the first half-century of the Stanford Super Series at Coolidge in Antigua.
The Superstars posted 173-4, comfortably the largest score of the week, with England's Twenty20 Cup champions responding by being dismissed for 115.
All-rounder Kieron Pollard also hit four sixes from his nine balls faced, as the hosts highlighted the value of big shots in 20-over cricket.
Fletcher's ability to do the conventional with extreme power proved crucial in increasing the Superstars' run-rate after captain Chris Gayle was dismissed in the very first over.
The left-hander Gayle was undone by a Tim Murtagh delivery that pitched on leg-stump and shot low to win a straightforward leg-before decision.
Fletcher had already hit three sixes by the time Shivnarine Chanderpaul was adjudged caught behind off Steve Finn in the fifth over, after intervention from television umpire Simon Taufel.
He continued his impressive shot execution towards the end of the innings alongside both Sylvester Joseph and Pollard.
With the opposing batsmen exploiting pace, spinner Shaun Udal was Middlesex's most successful bowler, ending the match with figures of 1-24 from his four overs.
But Middlesex arguably missed the steadying influence of Murali Kartik, who was unavailable due to commitments with his Indian side Railways.
Indeed, once Udal departed the attack the Superstars upped the ante to the extent that 69 runs came in the final five overs - Pollard hitting three consecutive sixes off Tyron Henderson from the final six balls.
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Joseph also cleared the ropes, a tactic the Superstars have been practising for six weeks at their training camp.
Both holed out attempting further big blows before Pollard contributed the lion's share of a 47-run alliance with Fletcher.
In reply, Middlesex regularly lost wickets and never really recovered after four went down inside the powerplay.
Eoin Morgan, a member of England's performance squad, displayed his obvious talent with an eye-catching 22, including the county's only six.
But two wickets in consecutive balls from spinner Dave Mohammed sealed the Superstars' victory with 15 deliveries to spare.