Hildy's 50 sets up dramatic final day
James Hildreth’s 78th First Class 50 set up what promises to be a dramatic final day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Gloucestershire’s seam attack put them in sight of a first County Championship win at Taunton since 1993, but Hildreth’s innings gave the hosts hope of pulling off a possible victory.
With a first innings lead of just three runs, Somerset slipped to 149 all out in their second innings in bright sunshine.
Ryan Higgins led the way with four for 29, and was well supported by Matt Taylor (two for 27) and debutant Dom Goodman (two for 19).
Faced with a victory target of 153 and ten overs left in the day, Gloucestershire progressed to 28 for one, losing Chris Dent, who played on to Craig Overton attempting to withdraw his bat.
At the start of the day, the visitors could add only eight runs to their overnight total of 301 for eight, David Payne offering a return catch to Marchant de Lange, who then ended Matt Taylor’s career-best contribution of 56 by pinning him lbw with a full delivery.
Somerset were soon in trouble as Tom Lammonby edged Higgins through to wicketkeeper James Bracey without scoring. It was 18 for two when Tom Abell fell leg-before pushing forward to Higgins and 36 for three when Tom Banton guided the last ball of Taylor’s first over to Dent at third slip.
George Bartlett departed first ball, caught behind off a full swinging delivery from Goodman and at lunch Somerset were in trouble at 47 for four.
By the time play was paused at 2.50pm to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, Gloucestershire had struck three more blows. Steve Davies edged a back-foot defensive shot off Payne to George Hankins at second slip and Higgins produced a good delivery that nipped back to bowl Craig Overton between bat and pad.
When Lewis Gregory fell to Taylor, Somerset were 88 for seven. Hildreth was unbeaten on 36 when play halted and the experienced batsman dug deep.
At 3pm both teams, coaching staffs and umpires lined up on the outfield for a minute’s silence in memory of HRH Prince Philip.
When play resumed at 4.10pm, Hildreth and Josh Davey offered the stiffest resistance of Somerset’s batting display.
Hildreth went to a patient half-century off 124 balls, with seven fours, and the pair had added 54 in 25 overs when he fell lbw to Goodman.
Graeme van Buuren’s left-arm spin quickly sent back de Lange, leg-before for a duck, and Davey was taken at first slip off Higgins for 22 to end the Somerset innings.
At the close of play, James Hildreth said: “We would have liked more second innings runs, but that is something we will reflect on when the match is over.
“At the moment our full focus is on winning the game and the most important thing is to have a belief that it will happen. There is enough in the pitch for our bowlers and sometimes what seem small targets are tricky to chase down.
“If we can get a couple of early wickets in the morning it might cause a few nerves in their dressing room. There were signs of turn and wear in the pitch, as well as lateral movement for the seamers, so I am sure Jack Leach will play an important role.”
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