Somerset maintain their favourites tag as Surrey’s batting frailties surface again
Because of rain delays the second semifinal was reduced to 19 overs-a-side and on winning the toss it was no surprise when Chris Jordan wanted to field first. Surrey included two spinners, although neither was the talismanic Sunil Narine, who had decided the round trip from the US was not one he wanted to make. Somerset also went with two spinners, Jack Brooks making way for Shoaib Bashir
In the end their spinners did not get to bowl as the Surrey seam attack strangled the attacking intent of the Somerset batters and at the halfway point Surrey looked to have the upper hand having restricted Somerset to 142/7. Gus Atkinson bowled with excellent pace, showing why he is attracting the interest of Brendon McCullum, and Sean Abbott was the pick of the attack, finishing with 4/23 from his four overs. The Curran brothers, Tom turning his arm over for the first time in the competition and Jordan conceded just 18 runs from the last three overs thanks to a mixture of yorkers and off pace deliveries as the batters found it hard to time the ball.
At the top of the order, white ball specialists Will Smeed and Tom Banton took advantage of a loose second over from Sam Curran to take the score to 29/0 after three overs, but from that point on it was only in the 14th over that Somerset scored more than nine runs. Abbott struck first, dismissing Smeed for 21 in the fifth over. All the Surrey fielders went up for a catch behind, but the umpire was not moved. However a review showed the nick and Somerset were 38/1. The same scenario recurred two overs later, this time Tom Banton dismissed by Atkinson for 26 off 20 balls. It was fortunate for Surrey that an edge off Banton in the first over that passed between wicket keeper and slip was not more expensive. From then on the combination of tight Surrey bowling and a pitch in which the bounce was variable and the ball was not coming on to the bat meant that the scoring was barely above a run-a-ball. Sean Dickson was the only batter to get the measure of the situation and his 30 not out of 22 balls was crucial to Somerset setting any sort of target. 142/7 from their 19 overs seemed below par, although boundaries appeared to be getting harder to come by. Somerset managed just twelve 4s and three 6s in their innings.
When Surrey came out to bat they were immediately under pressure as Craig Overton nipped his fourth ball between Laurie Evans’ bat and pad to bowl him for a duck. Jason Roy was next to go, top edging Matt Henry to Dickson for 13. Surrey were 20/2 after four overs and the innings went on in much the same way as the Somerset one. However, the Somerset bowlers fared slightly better than their Surrey compatriots and when a Surrey batter looked like taking control a mis-timed shot would end in a fielders hands. The fielding was almost faultless. Matt Henry was the pick of the bowlers taking 3/19 from his 3.5 overs, with Overton taking 3/24. Somerset also had the benefit of a drier ball, rain having fallen quite heavily when Surrey were bowling, allowing Ish Sodhi to bowl his four overs, taking 1/31. Surrey were dismissed for 118 with 13 balls left in the innings.
Somerset will go into the final with some confidence, having beaten Essex twice in the group stages. They may also benefit from playing more recently on a pitch that will not get better. They have made one change, bringing in the seamer, Kasey Aldridge in place of off spinner Shoaib Bashir, who did not bowl in the semifinal. Essex are unchanged. We do not expect a run feast but a tight finish could be on the cards.