Somerset had two centurions; Andy Umeed’s 119 and Curtis Campher’s 101, but it was death by Pujara as they could not stop the Indian superstar who was well supplemented by all his fellow batters reaching double figures to chase down 318 with four wickets and 11 balls to spare.
117* saw Pujara’s third consecutive 50+ score in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup and almost seemed inevitable throughout – the solid foundation as no-one in the Sussex side struck at under 80 runs per 100 balls.
Sussex started well with the ball, as Somerset (who won the toss and opted to bat) had less runs after four overs than they had after one legitimate ball against Worcestershire last Sunday. Both batters striking in the 20s rather than the 100+ they were in the previous two games at this stage.
Sean Hunt went for just one run off his first 14 balls. Three straight drives and a pull shot, all for four, got Umeed going come the end of the Powerplay, but George Thomas could not survive the first 10 with him. Eventually one of his false shots tickled behind to Oli Carter off Finn Hudson-Prentice (FHP) for five off 18 balls. Not the aggressive pinch-hitting opening knock he played at Truro and seems to be picked for. 32-1 after nine.
I was delighted to see George Bartlett get the chance at three in Goldsworthy’s absence, but he edged behind for one off four balls. FHP (3-50) the wicket-taker again.
Rew got off the mark also with a glorious straight drive for four. Bowl spin at Rew without a long on or deep midwicket at your peril, Division One’s top run-scorer bopping Jack Carson for six in his first over from the River End.
Rew played an uncharacteristic shot to hit Carson straight to FHP at long off for 22. Again I was glad to see a Somerset batting order change as skipper Sean Dickson pushed Curtis Campher up ahead of himself to five.
The two of them then navigated the middle-overs superbly, when their 100-run stand was reached, Somerset were 182-3 with still 14.4 overs left.
A maiden List-A century and first ever Somerset hundred for Andy Umeed, he did not stop there, further straight sixes nearly getting his personal strike-rate up to a run a ball.
Yet just as we were mentioning Somerset’s List-A Highest Score (184 Marcus Trescothick v Gloucestershire, Taunton, 2008), Umeed dabbed on, FHP involved in all of the first four wickets taken. FHP almost apologetically shook his hand, no real celebration from Sussex, 243-4.
Curtis Campher also got to his first Somerset century, 101 off just 81 balls before his next ball was hit to Henry Crocombe off Sean Hunt.
Dickson hit Coles into the River Tone on his way to 40 off 23 balls, Josh Thomas, ahead of Danny Lamb, completing the finishing role with aplomb – 21 off 10 balls as the home side reached 318, the highest total in four Metrobank One-Day Cup innings here so far. But would it be enough or would the slow first ten overs cost the home side?
Debutant J. T. Langridge got his first professional wicket, in just his second over, captain Tom Haines (18) spooned up to the trap set – Campher at deep backward point.
This brought an imperious start from former Hampshire and England left-hand bat Tom Alsop, getting off the mark with a stonking legside whip for four off Langridge.
The other opening Tom- Clark was also dismissed early, caught behind off Brooks for 13. Sussex 47-2 in the seventh over, a much quicker-paced start from the Sharks batters, but could they maintain the rate with wickets in hand to chase the 319 to win?
Che Pujara looked his classy best, the team 100 and 50 partnership being brought up in just the 16th over.
60 off 58 balls for Alsop who barely put a foot wrong, then George Thomas, surprisingly bowling as early as the 20th over, had him caught superbly by Rew behind the sticks, 139-3.
Another talented 19-year-old, James Coles put on 42 for the fifth wicket, but was then bowled for 21 by an innocuous Josh Thomas delivery – his second List-A wicket-both against Sussex in the last 12 months.
FHP was his first wicket in professional cricket last year, and the same man fell to the same teenager again. Though this time there was definitely more glove than pad in the lbw decision, (GBW) FHP fuming, but had to go for 13, 202-5 with 16 overs remaining.
Oli Carter capitalised on some poor Bashir balls early on to get himself going, his run down the wicket and forehand-straight-pull-slap off a Campher short ball into the sightscreen for six the most remarkable shot of the day.
But a superb piece of work from soon-to-be Sussex allrounder Danny Lamb at mid off ran Carter out for 44. At 274-6 with just 45 runs needed and Pujara still there, surely Somerset were not scenting the Sharks’ blood?!
Carson thumped Campher over cow for six with his second scoring stroke. Then the most expected, inevitable moment of the match came; 105 balls, eight fours for Pujara’s ton.
Three centuries and a complimentary Wurzels gig still to come – not a bad day out for cricket fans at Taunton even though the locals lost.