50s for Tom and Babar but Somerset just miss out
Half centuries from Tom Banton and Babar Azam were not enough to prevent Somerset from slipping to a narrow 13-run defeat to Sussex Sharks in the Vitality Blast at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Alex Carey was the standout performer for the the visitors, making 78 from 46 balls on his debut.
The 27-year-old Australian hit seven fours and four sixes as Sussex posted of 184 for eight after losing the toss.
Lewis Gregory was the pick of the Somerset bowlers claiming three for 30.
In reply, Somerset reached 171 for five, the highlight of which was an opening stand of 96 in less than 12 overs by Babar Azam (83) and Tom Banton (51).
The Sharks had managed only 34 for two in their six-over power play. Phil Salt was caught at extra cover off the second ball of the innings, sent down by Max Waller, and Luke Wright was bowled by Jerome Taylor.
However, the arrival of Carey soon changed the tempo of the innings. The left-hander hit the first six of the match over mid-wicket off Roelof van der Merwe in the eighth over. Laurie Evans provided positive support before being caught at deep cover off Tom Lammonby, having faced 27 balls and added 73 with Carey.
The Australian ‘keeper went to his fifty from 30 deliveries, with four fours and two sixes, in the 14th over. His innings came to an end when he was brilliantly caught by Lammonby at long-off. Gregory was the successful bowler at the start of the 19th over, which also saw him dismiss Weisse with the next ball after the batsmen had crossed, caught at deep mid-wicket. He then clean bowled Delray Rawlins with the fourth delivery.
Sussex then lost two late batsmen to run outs by Banton.
Somerset were given an encouraging start by Banton and Babar Azam, the pair taking the score to 49 after six overs.
Both players quickly gauged the pace of the pitch and Banton swept Danny Briggs for a flat six over deep square in the seventh over. Babar Azam then cleared the ropes too with a big hit over long-on off the same bowler.
At the halfway stage, Somerset were well placed at 85 without loss. However, Mills stemmed the flow of runs by conceding only three from the 11th over.
Banton went to his fifty off 45 balls, with six fours and a six, but the next delivery saw him caught at short fine-leg top-edging an attempted pull off Ollie Robinson.
Babar Azam then brought up his second Vitality Blast half-century in as many home games, having faced 32-balls and hit five fours and a six. Peter Trego smashed Rashid Khan for a maximum over mid-wicket, but with five overs left Somerset still required 67 and when Babar Azam fell to Khan in the 18th over, having faced just 50 balls, the home side’s chances had faded.
After the match Lewis Gregory said: “I think we were okay with the ball, although we weren’t quite as good as we would have liked to have been at the death again. I thought the guys stuck at the first half really well and then we got off to a good start with the bat again. Unfortunately we couldn’t really get going outside of that power play.
“All credit to Sussex because they bowled well at the end, but there are a few areas we can look at and improve on.
“We’ve set and chased larger totals than that in the past, but the good thing is that this is a long tournament and one in which you can easily get on a run. That’s something that we need to do.”
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