Jerome Taylor’s first Somerset wicket was followed by four more, as he finished with 5-15 off his four overs, guiding his new side to a thrilling final over victory.
Ultimately Somerset’s batting depth is significantly stronger than Hampshire’s, as shown by the former’s ability to keep scoring quickly, even after every one of their seven wickets fell.
Losing three wickets inside 2.1 overs ain’t ideal in any form of cricket, even if it’s a T20 and 17 runs have been taken off the other 10 balls. But Somerset did manage to recover to 197-7, largely down to the platform laid through superb running between the wickets – combined with some touches of class – from James Hildreth and Tom Abell.
Abell got going with a beautiful shimmy down the wicket and cut through backward point off ex-Devon seamer Ryan Stevenson. The four-day captain showed again how you can score quickly enough in T20 cricket simply with pure, glorious cricket shots.
Abell even mustered the first six of the game, sweeping Liam Dawson over deep square, but foolishly played the very same shot to a different next delivery, holing out for 27 ending a fluid 60-run partnership between him and Hildreth.
Corey Anderson struck consecutive sixes off Dawson in the 11th whilst Hildreth kept doing just what Hildreth does, supremely at the other end. Mujeeb ur Rahman missed two very hard caught and bowled chances in a row, before Hildreth’s 50 came up off 40 balls, with a pulled 6 off Munro.
Anderson holed out off Stevenson for 32, bringing in-form skipper Gregory to the crease. Shortly after, Chris Wood collected his fourth of Somerset’s top four, Hildreth cutting straight to Munro at short third man.
Somerset continued to score at a fair pace during their innings, despite regularly losing wickets. Gregory took three fours in a row off Wood and then helped Roelof van der Merwe take 24 off Fidel Edwards’ next over. 177-6 off 18 suddenly looked to be good going.
Wood did get his five-fer, and career best T20 bowling figures, to very little celebration. With a job to do, he finished with 5-32 off his four. Van der Merwe again proved to be the best number eight in world T20 cricket, hitting 31 off 13 with typically indescribable “vdM” shots.
Hampshire had quite the opposite start to Somerset, scoring sedately but safely off the opening overs. Yet when Colin Munro was caught off Jamie Overton by Steve Davies, the platform-building plan was scuppered – 14-1 off 3.
A terrific catch by Hildreth, running back from short mid-wicket, saw the end of Sam Northeast for Overton’s second.
Taylor ended the powerplay in real style, picking up his first and second Somerset wickets in the space of two balls. Unfortunately, he then had to wait until the 15th over for his hat-trick chance.
With Rilee Rossouw and Tom Alsop gone cheaply, it was down to England men Dawson and James Vince to rebuild from 37-4. They did so adequately, Vince going to 50 off just 32 balls and Dawson starting to play some shots too, especially when Max Waller reverted to wide flat long hops instead of his earlier nicely flighted leg-spin.
Van der Merwe also got some tat, but Vince and Dawson still had plenty of work to do to catch up with the run-rate.
The game perhaps hinged on Overton’s rocket-launching 13th over. His first ball went for four, second two, third one, fourth one, fifth two, sixth nearly a run out. Ok, nothing dramatic came off the over, but Somerset’s strike bowler played with such ease, it felt like Hampshire’s game to lose at this point.
At 117-4 off 14 there was still plenty to get, but Dawson and Vince comfortably closing in on a 100-run-partnership.
Neither the hat-trick, nor the 100-partnership ever came. Vince hit Taylor straight to Overton at long on, no boundary flick-back required this time. Vince was gone for 74, the top score of the match, leaving Hampshire 119-5.
That should really have been it for Hampshire, but Dawson did his best to keep his side in it, pumping van der Merwe all around the park and taking the game right to the last over. Hampshire needed 23 off that final over, but when Waller ran Dawson out coming back for the second to keep the strike, it really was game over.
Hampshire’s numbers of 7-11 proved to be nothing on Somerset’s. They didn’t provide Dawson the support he needed, and Hampshire’s innings eventually closed on 181-9. Dawson had fought a lone furrow, before being run out, to finish on 82 off just 41 balls.