Somerset kept their title hopes alive after turning the game at Edgbaston on its head and securing their eighth victory of the season, winning by five wickets on a hard-fought final day.
Two lengthy partnerships from Somerset enabled them to secure an unlikely victory, after they trailed by over 100 hundred runs going into the second innings. Stands of 88 between George Bartlett and Dominic Bess and 90 between Tom Banton and Babar Azam helped to deny Warwickshire’s hard-hitting bowlers victory.
It was set for a thrilling final day between title-chasing Somerset, needing 258 to win, and seventh-placed Warwickshire needing ten wickets to aid their survival chances.
The morning session went Warwickshire’s way early, as Oliver Hannon-Dalby got their first wicket in the seventh over of the day, removing the centurion from the first innings, Steven Davies, who edged behind for 16. The 6ft 7’’ bowler then dismissed Hildreth on four, getting the ball to nip back into him and trap him lbw on the knee roll.
Henry Brookes started his 20th birthday in a brilliant manner, bowling superbly in the morning session with consistent line and length, and he was rewarded with a well-deserved wicket, removing Tom Abell lbw for 25. Somerset were three down inside the first 45 minutes, needing a further 209 to win.
It was Warwickshire’s game at that point, until Banton and Babar took the game away from them. There was excellent bowling from Will Rhodes, who had numerous leg before appeals and an edge behind that was not given, but the Somerset pair battled through to keep their victory hopes alive, seeing them through till lunch, needing 171 to win.
Their determiniation continued in the afternoon session, as Banton went through to his half-century off 87 balls, despite some good pressure bowling from Warwickshire who kept preserving and creating chances.
It was the debutant George Garrett who reaped the reward, picking up the crucial wicket of the Pakistan international, Babar, trapped in front for 40.
Jeetan Patel, the veteran spinner who became the joint oldest player to play for Warwickshire this century at 39 years old, joined in on the action, removing the key wicket of Banton, who edged behind on 66 to Tim Ambrose who took an impressive catch.
Those two wickets gave Warwickshire a glimmer of hope but Somerset’s pursued with their resilience as Bess and Bartlett ensured there would be no further batting wobbles. Bartlett reached his half-century off 72 balls in the crucial partnership to see Somerset through for their eighth victory this season.
It was a much-needed win for second-placed Somerset, keeping them toe-to-toe with Essex as they sit just two points behind the current leaders, who completed their victory over Kent yesterday,