Defeat for Somerset at Richmond

AB de Villiers hit an unbeaten 88 as Middlesex beat Somerset by 35 runs at Richmond in the Vitality Blast.

De Villiers runs came from 35 runs and set up his side’s match-winning total of 215 for four.

Although in-form opener Tom Banton struck 41 off 25 balls to give Somerset hope of chasing that down, the visitors slipped to 180 all out following his dismissal by leg-spinner Nathan Sowter.

Sowter returned figures of four for 29 to secure Middlesex’s fourth win from six games, while Somerset slip back after failing to build on their win over Surrey two days earlier.

Dawid Malan (56) and Paul Stirling (31) laid the foundations with an opening partnership of 78 after the Seaxes had been inserted.

Stirling never quite settled into his rhythm, with the Somerset bowlers tucking him up on his pads, and he was first to depart after top-edging a hook off Craig Overton into the hands of deep mid-wicket.

However, Malan brought up his half-century from 33 balls.

Tom Lammonby (two for 32) removed the Middlesex captain when the batsman skied to Tom Abell at mid-off. The young left-armer also went on to claim the scalp of Eoin Morgan (11), who perished in identical fashion.

However, De Villiers raced to his half-century from 24 balls. The South African added 73 in tandem with John Simpson, who made 21 off 14, before holing out to the final delivery of the innings.

Mujeeb Ur-Rahman struck an early blow when Somerset began their reply, bowling Babar Azam – who went into the match as the tournament’s leading run-scorer – with just four to his name.

However, Banton (41) and James Hildreth unleashed a ferocious counter-attack against Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones, blazing a second-wicket partnership of 66 from only 25 balls.

Hildreth hit 28 from 11 deliveries before he chopped on to Finn, but it was the wicket of Banton that proved decisive – and Sowter was the man to collect it, trapping the opener leg before as he attempted to sweep.

Sowter then had Ed Byrom caught at backward point just two balls later and went on to claim the scalps of Lammonby and Craig Overton.

Tom Abell did his best to retrieve the situation with 41 from 33 balls, but the visitors’ chances were all but extinguished when he fell to Finn’s diving catch at third man.

After the match, Abell said: “They got 10 or 20 more than we would have liked. It’s obviously a small ground here and a quick outfield. At half-time I thought we were in the game, but we slightly let ourselves down with the bat.

“We were looking to be positive right the way through, but some of the options we took and the timing of them could have been better. When you’re chasing 220 you’re always under pressure to score, but equally I don’t think we helped ourselves.

“We lost a flurry of wickets in a short space of time and that can’t happen if you want to get over the line. We want to play fearless cricket and put the opposition under as much pressure as we can.

“The other night against Surrey, it paid off really well but today we’ve fallen short. We were right up with the run rate, we just lost too many wickets too early on. There’s a pretty quick turnaround between games so we need to get our thinking right and execute slightly better at the back end of the innings.”

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