Worcestershire conceded their highest ever total in T20 cricket to fall to a third successive defeat in the Vitality Blast. Somerset racked up 229-8 in their 20 overs with Steven Davies top scoring with 60, but it was the 20 extras conceded by the Rapids, which included one over that went for 29, that proved crucial.
Although they gave it a good go with the bat, a successful run chase never looked likely, and Somerset claiming victory by 16 runs
Put into bat on the same wicket as Gloucestershire’s demolition of the Birmingham Bears on Wednesday evening, Somerset made a flying start, with Davies twice clearing the shorter boundary to the west side off Pat Brown.
Babar Azam returned from international duty to make his first appearance of the summer for Somerset, and he got into his innings with a couple of classical boundaries to take the score from 53-0 from the six overs of powerplay.
Somerset took the score to 91 in the 10th over before Worcestershire took their first wicket of the day. Babar played on to go for 42 from 35 balls, a significant wicket in Rapids’ history as Daryl Mitchell became Worcestershire’s leading wicket taker in T20 history.
Davies moved to his half century from 28 balls and he was joined by James Hildreth, who played a couple of brilliant switch hits that carried for six.
Hildreth was dismissed by Dillon Pennington for a hugely entertaining 26 from 14 balls. Davies’ dismissal for 60 from 35 balls, also to Pennington, in the 15th triggered a revival for the Rapids.
Mitchell took two wickets in his final over. The dangerous Tom Abell had cleared the boundary before being bowled for 21 from just 8 balls before Lewis Gregory, another returning from the international bubble, was caught and bowled for a golden duck. Mitchell ended with 3-35 from his 4 overs.
Ben Green hit two sixes in a brief cameo before being caught by Pennington off the bowling of Brown for 14, but that was as good as it got for Worcestershire for whom the wheels spectacularly fell off in the final 4 overs of the innings.
The 18th over from Brown was a 10 ball affair before Barnard opened the 19th over with two no balls for height. They went for 4 and 6 with Barnard being ordered out of the attack. He was replaced by Adam Finch who went for two fours and a six as the the over went for 29.
Van der Merwe collected another maximum in the final over to end with 25 not out from just 9 balls. Davey was run out off the final ball as Somerset ended 229-8 from their 20 overs, the highest score they’ve made in this format away from Taunton.
Facing such mammoth target, Worcestershire could not afford to lose early wickets and Lewis Gregory stuck in the second over to remove Riki Wessels for 1. Hamish Rutherford hit a six over point but his innings was ended by Ollie Sale for 22.
Sale also picked up the wicket of Jack Haynes, who hit four boundaries in a breezy 20 from just 9 balls. The Rapids were only three runs behind Somerset’s total at the end of the powerplay at 56-3.
Ben Cox was the next out, to a brilliant caught and bowled effort by Davey for 7. Ross Whiteley hit a couple of boundaries but when he was well caught by Sale for 15, the Rapids chances looked to be over.
Davey continued his excellent spell with a third wicket, removing Barnard LBW for 11.
Some Worcestershire resistance did arrive through Jake Libby and Mitchell. Libby made his first 50 in this format since moving from Notts, while Mitchell’s 45 from 22 balls was his highest score in T20 for four years.
Their partnership was worth 71 before he was caught by van der Merwe off Davey. The Scottish international ended with figures of 4-41 from his four overs.
Libby ended with 75 not out from 46 balls as the Rapids made 213-7. Somerset’s victory by 16 runs took them second in the Central Group ahead of a home meeting with the Bears tomorrow night.
Worcestershire have now lost their three completed matches and the chances of a third successive appearance at Finals Day look slim.