IT has been a long and occasionally bumpy road for Somerset in the T20 Blast this season, but they are now just one win away from appearing at Finals Day next Saturday.

Captain Jim Allenby insisted prior to the tournament that his side had the ability to reach the knockout stages and was clearly determined to avoid a repeat of 2016’s disastrous campaign.

Despite a tricky start, that is exactly what Somerset have done after a group stage that has featured thrilling matches – some of which have been played in pouring rain – in a tightly-contested section which led to supporters from across the region reaching for their calculators to work out the permutations as the final matches came to a suitably dramatic conclusion.

Quite whether those fans will be as invested in the fortunes of city-based teams from 2020 remains to be seen, but nonetheless it has been pleasing to see the likes of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Somerset – each of whom may be sidelined by the new tournament – mixing it up with the ‘bigger’ clubs in the knockout rounds.

Somerset have not done it the easy way. Allenby has used 18 players across the 12 games and made use of several innovations, including Lewis Gregory as a makeshift opener – an experiment which has worked nicely, though he needs to convert a promising start into a meaningful score.

They have also, by and large, had to cope without an overseas player after Corey Anderson’s premature exit due to injury and the PCB’s recalling of Fakhar Zaman just as he was all but in the departure lounge ready to head to Taunton.

The lack of an overseas star has been one of several off-field distractions that have lingered throughout the tournament to date, with Jim Allenby’s BBC interview fuelling speculation about departures as well as the topic of online abuse against Somerset’s players cropping up after the defeat to Glamorgan.

Peter Trego, the subject of much of that ire, silenced his critics in the best possible way with an unbeaten 84 at the Ageas Bowl on Friday, while Johann Myburgh – who has seen the white ball like a football all season – continued his fine form with a quickfire 58.

Both players will be key at Trent Bridge, traditionally a good batting wicket which regularly sees teams pass 200, while spin twins Max Waller and Roelof van der Merwe - each of whom have 15 wickets so far - will be crucial in trying to restrain the hosts’ talented line-up.

Story so far

NOTTS Outlaws have qualified in style, finishing top of the North Group after collecting eight wins from their 12 matches.

They scored over 200 on three separate occasions, including a successful pursuit of 223 against Yorkshire, and the average score batting first in this year’s competition at Trent Bridge is 202 - a high-scoring encounter could be in prospect.

SOMERSET, meanwhile, have had a slightly more turbulent passage into the knockout rounds.

Jim Allenby’s men began with consecutive defeats, but superb home form brought them right back into contention.

Quickfire losses against Kent and Glamorgan left Somerset needing a miracle, which is exactly what they got after thumping Hampshire by 98 runs last Friday and witnessing other results fall in their favour, allowing the Cidermen to sneak into fourth on net run rate.

Last meeting

THE two sides met at the same stage of this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup in what turned out to be a classic encounter in Taunton.

Brendan Taylor’s superb 154 helped Notts to a mammoth 429-8 and, though Dean Elgar (91) and Peter Trego (66) impressed in reply, Somerset came up just short as they were bowled out for 405 and Nottinghamshire went on to win the competition.

The most recent T20 clash between the two was a quarter-final at Trent Bridge in 2011, when Kieron Pollard (47* from 25 balls) and Jos Buttler (34* from 14) led Somerset to a thrilling six-wicket win with five balls to spare.

T20 record

SOMERSET were Finals Day regulars in the not-too-distant past and reached the last four every year between 2009 and 2012.

They have not returned since, however, and are still aiming to win the competition for the first time since 2005.

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE are bidding to reach the semis for the second successive year, having been knocked out in the last four by Northamptonshire last season.

They have never won the competition, but were runners-up in 2006.

Team news

SOMERSET are likely to be without captain Jim Allenby, who picked up a hand injury against Hampshire and will undergo a late fitness test.

Ryan Davies has been added to the squad as cover, though his namesake Steve is likely to retain his place as he looks to improve having registered four ducks in his last five T20 matches.

Somerset squad: Allenby (c), S Davies, Gregory (vc), Myburgh, Trego, Hildreth, Abell, Byrom, van der Merwe, C Overton, Bess, Leask, Groenewald, van Meekeren, Waller, R Davies.

The hosts benefit from the availability of England opener Alex Hales, who smashed 101 from 47 balls against Yorkshire and 95 from just 30 deliveries at Durham in the group stage.

Live coverage

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