HAMPSHIRE DEFEAT SOMERSET BY 4 WICKETS

HAMPSHIRE DEFEAT SOMERSET BY 4 WICKETS

95* from overseas batsman Babar Azam wasn’t enough for Somerset, as Hampshire won a last over thriller in the Vitality T20 Blast South Group.

Needing eight off the last over, then five off four balls, Lewis McManus smashed Jerome Taylor over long on to win the game in style.

Hampshire would likely have taken keeping Somerset to just 172 in the first innings. It looked like it would be enough when Hampshire were 9-2, and Rilee Rossouw, Sam Northeast and James Vince were all out cheaply, but plenty of yo-yo-ing of momentum eventually saw Hampshire finish on top.

Aneurin Donald top scored with 48 for Hants, before Lewis Gregory had him caught by young Tom Lammonby at extra cover in the 13th over.

Liam Dawson had combined with Donald for a 56-run fourth wicket partnership. He went on to score 47* and crucially was still there at the end.

Chris Morris hit the biggest six of the night, clipping Craig Overton into the top tier of the Andy Caddick Pavilion, nearly knocking Somerset Chief Executive Andrew Cornish off his favourite perch!

Next ball Morris hit another six, over long off this time, but then Craig Overton fired down an extra quick delivery and bowled the South African for 15.

Somerset had been on top all innings until the 17th over when James Fuller took Jerome Taylor for three sixes and a boundary, the over going for 24.

The West Indian quick had figures of 2-7 from 2 before this one, but this six-ball spell swung the game right back in Hants’ favour.

Fuller departing to Lewis Gregory made for another twist, but McManus played a gem of an innings, his 15 off 5 the match-winning cameo.

Hampshire’s captain and England hopeful Vince had earlier won the toss and opted to bowl in slightly overcast floodlit conditions.

Peter Trego’s 200th T20 appearance saw him put on 69 with Babar Azam for the second wicket, but neither looked entirely comfortable before the Weston man was bowled by Wood for 35.

Babar got his maiden 50 for Somerset off 40 balls, then went into a different gear, hitting Morris for consecutive sixes just when the run rate needed to be increased.

At the other end, james Hildreth – as only James Hildreth does – made batting look easy, his reverse slog sweeping of Dawson for six by far the shot of the night.

When Hildreth was bowled by Morris for 28, Gregory was greeted by some seriously impressive death bowling from Morris.

Back in the westcountry after carrying drinks, sweatbands and spectacle wipes out for his mate Jack Leach during that knock of 92 for England at Lords, Gregory couldn’t find the fluency he showed in almost all his white-ball innings last summer,

Azam was just a few yards away from scoring a century on his home debut when, on 94*, he pulled the last ball of the innings for one just short of the boundary.

Fine margins make all the difference in T20 cricket and, bizarrely, Somerset’s Gregory and Azam chose not to run a second to the boundary on the final ball of their innings. Whether that would have made a difference we will never know.

Either way Hampshire were deserved winners tonight.

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