Gloucestershire maintained the excellent start to their one-day campaign with a thrilling three wicket win over Somerset at Bristol with two balls of the match remaining. It was the third successive win for the home county, the previous two being final ball victories.
On a slow pitch before a large crowd at Nevil Road, Gloucestershire restricted Somerset to 244/7 after the visitors had been 88/6. They then successfully chased their target thanks largely to their captain, Australian Michael Klinger, who scored a brilliant 107 from 133 balls with five fours and four sixes. It was his sixth century in all competitions since he returned to Bristol in May.
This morning Somerset won the toss and decided to bat. Tom Abell was the first to depart in the fifth over, caught behind from an attempted leg glance off David Payne for six. Peter Trego looked in good touch with two rasping fours off Payne until James Fuller bowled him with a beauty which nipped back and uprooted his off stump to leave Somerset 42/2. Fuller followed this with his second wicket, yorking Adam Hose for 21. At 56/3 in the 14th over, Somerset had been pegged back by some tight Gloucestershire bowling.
Benny Howell’s introduction to the attack brought immediate reward, as he bowled Tom Cooper for 14. 68/4 became 70/5 as James Allenby was superbly caught low down to his right by wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick off Craig Miles. With only 18 overs bowled, and half the side out, James Hildreth and Alex Barrow now had to balance keeping the board ticking with the necessity to bat the 50 overs. Barrow looked to be opting for the former choice when Miles bowled him with one that left him off the pitch for 17 in the 24th over at 88/6.
Lewis Gregory and Hildreth set about repairing the damage with an excellent seventh wicket partnership of 118. Hildreth reached a fighting half century in the 43rd over, and was quickly followed to the half century mark by Gregory. But after hoisting Miles for a huge six into the apartments at the Ashley Down End, Gregory fell to Payne, skying a catch to the bowler in the 48th over for an invaluable 62. Tim Groenewald added some useful blows at the death as Hildreth was left 85 not out. It was a highly creditable effort from the long-serving Somerset batsman which enabled his side to close on 244/7, a score with which on 88/6 they would have been delighted.
Although the late over onslaught (65 were added in the last five overs) spoilt some of the Gloucestershire bowling figures it was a splendid effort on a pitch that afforded some sideways movement early on. Fuller starred with 2/41 from his ten overs and Howell bowled with miserly accuracy for his 1/24 from his maximum allocation.
Chris Dent and Michael Klinger set about the run chase in positive fashion. Dent led something of a charmed life until he was caught low down at short square leg off Groenewald for 16. The advent of left arm spinner Jack Leach in the 11th over brought immediate reward as he trapped Friday’s centurion Gareth Roderick lbw for one to leave Gloucestershire 43/2.
After a quiet start Geraint Jones smashed a huge six from Leach but was soon out, playing all round a yorker from Jim Allenby for 22. Klinger passed 50 with Howell to accompany him but as Gloucestershire reached the 30 over mark they were 130/3 and marginally behind the clock. An impressive spell from leg-spinner Max Waller saw him capture the wicket of Howell, lbw sweeping, for 24, and the match was beautifully poised as Gloucestershire were 136/4 in the 36th over.
At this stage the result hung on whether Somerset could dismiss Klinger. Groenewald returned from the Ashley Down End and with his first ball the Australian met the challenge by hitting a straight six. The third ball received the same treatment. Noema-Barnett cleared the ropes in Waller’s next over and the momentum was clearly with the home side as Klinger reached his century.
Somerset got a sniff of a last chance when Klinger was finally out in uncharacteristically soft fashion, punching a Groenewald full- toss to Allenby at cover. Noema-Barnett holed out on the square- leg boundary with 32 needed. But once again Jack Taylor showed his value to the Gloucestershire white-ball game as he saw his team over the line with an unbeaten 24 in 13 balls with two sixes from Groenewald’s last over.
Somerset top scorer James Hildreth told the county’s website: ‘We felt 244 was defendable and were certainly happy with it from 88 for six. 20 runs more would have been useful but we are losing too many wickets in the power plays.
We have a young side at the moment, but we need to be honest with ourselves because results are not good enough. We probably need to win our remaining group games to have any chance of progressing in the competition.’
Gloucestershire continue their 50 over campaign on Tuesday with a home game against Durham while Somerset play at Northampton tomorrow in the hope of injecting some life into their flagging hopes of success in this competition.