Somerset beat Middlesex by 21 runs at Uxbridge

Somerset recorded a first win of the 2017 NatWest T20 Blast season thanks to a 21 run win against Middlesex at Uxbridge.

After securing a first point of the campaign at Glamorgan last night, Matt Maynard’s men were keen to go one better against the team from Lord’s and thanks to an excellent all-round display they did just that.

After winning the toss Jim Allenby elected to bat but Steven Finn made two early breakthroughs as Allenby and Peter Trego found themselves back in the pavilion with just 19 runs on the scoreboard.

Somerset’s innings, though, was revitalised by a third wicket stand of 56 in 4.3 overs between Lewis Gregory and Adam Hose. Gregory, opening for the county for the first time in any format, drove Roland-Jones handsomely over mid off for six and also struck five fours in a 22-ball 37 before being bowled by leg spinner Nathan Sowter’s first ball at the start of the eighth over.

At halfway Somerset were 99 for 3 and Hose uppercut Finn for six over third man on his way to a superb 22-ball first T20 fifty. Meanwhile, Finn was being scooped cleverly to fine leg for four by James Hildreth, who stepped outside his off stump to play the shot.

Hildreth raced to 38 from 19 balls, slog-sweeping and pulling Sowter for successive sixes before the same bowler turned and sprinted fully 30 yards toward long on to bring off a magnificent running catch after seeing the batsman sky another attempted big hit. He and Hose had added another quickfire 56 in 4.4 overs, with Hildreth hitting three sixes and three fours.

Hose drove Sowter over long on for six before being adjudged lbw to the Australian-born leg spinner to leave Somerset 143 for five.

The closing overs featured some more useful hitting by Roelof van der Merwe and Craig Overton, after both Michael Leask and debutant Tom Banton had fallen cheaply. Van der Merwe made 17 before being caught at mid wicket off Tim Southee in the 19th over and Overton reached 19 off 11 balls, including a huge six swung off Southee, before being dismissed in the final over.

The Middlesex reply got off to a stuttering start with captain Brendon McCullum continuing his poor run of form by chipping a slower ball from Josh Davey to mid off on seven. The New Zealander has now scored just 36 runs from four innings in the competition.

Michael Leask’s off spin then accounted for the equally prized scalp of Dawid Malan, the left-hander dragging his back foot out of the crease when he attempted to flick to leg and being smartly stumped by 18-year-old Banton. The delivery was signalled a wide but the dismissal left Middlesex 25 for 2.

Eoin Morgan helped Paul Stirling put on 66 in nine overs for the third wicket but Middlesex still required another 117 from nine overs when Stirling skied Overton to deep mid wicket from the first ball of the 12th over to go for 39. He had pulled the first ball he faced, from Davey, over mid wicket for six and there were four legside sixes in all for the stocky Irishman – two of them off Max Waller’s leg spin and the other pulled off Roelof van der Merwe’s slow left arm.

Morgan laboured to 33 from 31 balls before hitting Waller high to long on and although both James Franklin and John Simpson hit out defiantly the required run rate continued to climb.

Not even taking 26 from the 15th over, bowled by Davey and including three sixes, a four and two wides, could resuscitate the Middlesex innings and soon afterwards Franklin lofted the impressive Overton to long on to go for 25.

Simpson departed in the 18th over, caught at extra cover for 27, and Ryan Higgins thumped six fours in an unbeaten 35 off just 16 balls to give a good-sized crowd some extra entertainment in the last few overs. Overton finished the match by having Toby Roland-Jones caught at long off for one from the final ball.

After the match Somerset Captain Jim Allenby said: “I always thought that if we got a couple of early wickets then the total we put on the board would be enough. Getting McCullum and Malan early was massive because they are both such dangerous players. McCullum might be the best batsman in the world in this format when he’s going well.

“I asked the guys to keep attacking in the field, and when Josh Davey and Michael Leask got those two early wickets it gave us the perfect start to trying to defend our score.

“We decided on a change of strategy today by batting first when we won the toss. We have been opting to chase but that hasn’t worked for however many games it has been, and so we wanted to try to take the pressure off our batsmen. I was very pleased with our performance and it was great to see the way both Adam Hose and James Hildreth batted.”

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