SOMERSET'S batting master-class strengthened their position at the top of the Vitality Blast south group with a seven-wicket crushing of Essex.

Tom Banton (42), Will Smeed (36), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (28), Tom Abell (40 not out) and Sean Dickson (30 not out) struck 16 sixes between them in an almost perfect team batting performance.

Paul Walter whacked 51 and Robin Das a career-best 72 in a 94-run stand after slumping to 15 for three.

But Somerset ended Essex’s five-game winning streak by chasing down 186 with 21 balls to spare to move two points clear at the top of the group.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr: “We were really pleased to only chasing 180 at halfway. It was a rapid outfield and for Brooksy and Henry to take three wickets with the new ball was outstanding and then the way we chased it was phenomenal.

“We have been excellent with the ball and in the field. We kept taking wickets, which is vital in T20 cricket and wrestled the momentum back.

“If you look at our opening partnership it is incredibly formidable. Smeedy played and missed his first could of balls but when he goes he goes. He is so dynamic and Banton is looking mature beyond his years. Their partnership intimidates the opposition.

“To chase 185 in the 17th over is a very comprehensive situation.”

Smeed and Banton took on the 187 target with the intent of finishing the match in a hurry, the pair smashing 64 in 5.2 overs.

Somerset were only on 11 after two overs before Smeed took Shane Snater for three successive legside sixes in a 23-run over, and then Paul Walter was taken for 15 with both batters helping themselves to maximums.

Smeed’s 16-ball 36 salvo ended when he toed to mid-on, but that breakthrough didn’t pause the onslaught as Tom Kohler-Cadmore peppered Hayes Close with three sixes and 21 off Matt Critchley.

Kohler-Cadmore cleared the press box but Simon Harmer had him caught next ball and Banton – who had reversed an outrageous six – was leg before to Sam Cook for 42.

Snater was brought back for a second over, Sean Dickson plonked him over the square leg boundary two more times – the Dutch international going for 42 in his two overs.

Sams returned two for 22 in a rare break from cannon fodder, and could have had three had Das held onto Dickson, but Abell and Dickson eased over the line soon after.