Rapids pip Somerset in dramatic climax

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This Vitality Blast Central Group match went right to the wire but it was Worcestershire Rapids who came out on top by just three runs at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The visitors posted 168 for four after winning the toss, Ben Cox top-scoring with 56 not out, whilst Lewis Gregory was the pick of the Somerset attack with two for 31 from his four overs.

In reply, the hosts missed out by the narrowest of margins after posting 165 for eight. Tom Abell top scored with an excellent 60 whilst Pat Brown claimed three for 39.

Despite the loss of Riki Wessels in the first over, bowled by Max Waller, Worcestershire made a good fist of the initial six-over power-play, reaching 55 for one.

Hamish Rutherford looked in particularly dangerous form on his way to 46 from 29 balls before attempting a further big shot off Gregory, who accepted a skied caught and bowled chance.

The New Zealander was out to the last ball of the tenth over, with the total on 83 and his stand with Jake Libby having added 80 in nine overs.

Somerset then did well to put a clamp on the scoring rate as Gregory had Libby caught at deep mid-wicket whilst Waller and van der Merwe combined effectively.

However, Cox was still there at the end, having faced 34 balls and hit five fours and three sixes.

Somerset’s reply got off to the worst possible start when Babar Azam was given out lbw to the first ball of the innings, bowled by Charlie Morris.

That brought in 18-year-old debutante Will Smeed to the crease. The Academy product received his cap from Babar Azam before play began and got off the mark with a boundary before skying a catch to wicketkeeper Cox off seamer Adam Finch in the second over.

It was 30 for three when Steve Davies was leg-before to Brown and at the end of six overs Somerset were 43 for three.

Gregory and Abell added 43 for the fourth wicket before Gregory, on 24, was bowled giving Daryl Mitchell the charge. At the halfway point in their innings, Somerset were 74 for four.

Eddie Byrom fell to a reverse sweep off Ed Barnard and at 94 for five, Somerset required more than ten an over.

Sixes from Abell and Tom Lammonby raised hopes, but when Lammonby also perished to a reverse sweep off Barnard, 58 were still needed.

However, Abell had moved to a well-crafted half-century with a six and four fours. He added two boundaries from ramp shots before cutting a catch to cover off Brown.

With 24 required off the last two overs, van der Merwe took a couple of boundaries off Morris and it was 13 to win off the last.

Craig Overton smashed the second ball from Brown over deep square for six, but the bowler responded by having van der Merwe caught behind and Somerset had left themselves just too much to do.

At the end of the game Tom Abell said: “We’ve now lost three games in the Vitality Blast and I feel we should have won two of them, so it’s massively frustrating.

“There was an ebb and flow to tonight’s game and we were behind the eight ball at times. The required run rate never got out of hand but T20 cricket can be a funny beast.

“We know what we need to do and we’ll be looking to do that starting on Sunday against Gloucestershire.”

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