Natwest T20 Blast

Somerset 204-9 beat Hampshire 190 by 14 runs

SOMERSET climbed to third in the South Group of the Natwest T20 Blast with a 14-run victory over Hampshire in Taunton.

Lewis Gregory's rapid 43 was the top score in the home side's 204-9, with Tim Groenewald (2-28) and Max Waller (2-32) impressing with the ball as Somerset defended their score.

Upon winning the toss, Jim Allenby opted to bat and, having dropped himself down the order to number three, watched his side start like a train as Lewis Gregory continued to enjoy himself in his new role at the top of the order.

The 25-year-old found the boundary at will early on as he and Steve Davies made hay, taking 25 runs from Kyle Abbott's first over and helping the hosts to 61-0 after just four overs.

Davies, who was enjoying his best T20 innings in a Somerset shirt, cleared the ropes twice on his way to 32 before he was the first wicket to fall with the score on 71, picking out James Vince from the bowling of Shahid Afridi.

Gregory was next to go, caught by Sean Ervine off Gareth Berg from the final ball of the powerplay for 43 as Somerset finished the first six overs on 83-2.

Peter Trego's lean run in this year's competition continued when he departed for eight, but Allenby and James Hildreth kept the runs flowing and Somerset were flying at 147-4 at the end of the 13th over.

Their momentum was checked in the following over as both Hildreth (25) and Corey Anderson (1) fell in quick succession, and Allenby followed for 37 shortly afterwards.

Then came a calamitous spell which saw Somerset lose three wickets for just one run, starting with Roelof van der Merwe's needless run out, and Somerset were in danger of not using up all their overs as they fell to 190-9 with 13 balls of the innings remaining.

Final pair Craig Overton and Max Waller saw the hosts past 200, however, as the innings ended on 204-9.

Somerset knew they needed early wickets in reply, and Craig Overton picked up the first of those when dangerman Rilee Rossouw picked out Lewis Gregory at mid off having scored just two.

James Vince played some lovely shots on his way to 33, but he too was on his way back after missing a straight Gregory delivery and finding himself bowled, and the same fate then befell George Bailey on 10 as Tim Groenewald sent down a peach to remove the Australian.

At that stage Hampshire were 43-3, but Sean Ervine (19) and Michael Carberry (30) steadily rebuilt before both fell in the space of three balls - Ervine bowled by van der Merwe and Carberry run out attempting a second run that was never there.

Shahid Afridi threatened to show what he was capable of, blasting some trademark lusty blows on his way to 18 before Max Waller found a way through his defences, and the dismissal of the hard-hitting Lewis McManus for 34 ought to have made the game safe with Hampshire on 152-7.

Gareth Berg put up a valiant fight, however, and brought the runs required down to 22 from the final over to set up a nervy finale, which was only heightened when he edged the second ball for four over third man.

Berg's defiance was ended when he was run out from the next delivery attempting a second run to hand Somerset their third straight victory in the competition.


AFTERWARDS, man of the match Lewis Gregory said: "I'm loving opening the batting - it's nice to look around and see the field up in the first six overs, knowing that if you beat the infield it's four.

"Steve Davies played beautifully today too, and it's always a good sign when you come off having scored 200 knowing that you've left a few runs out there.

"We bowled brilliantly to defend the total and worked very hard in the field - after a tough start we're now going OK.

"We had a few chats at the start of  the tournament as we know we've not been where we need to be in this format, but we seem to have turned a corner."