Rilee impresses again but Somerset suffer defeat
Rilee Rossouw impressed again with the bat but it wasn’t enough to prevent Somerset’s 100% Vitality Blast record from coming to an end against Sussex Sharks at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
The South African blitzed his way to 74 from just 29 balls but it was the visitors who claimed the spoils by 47 runs.
After being put in by Tom Abell, the Sharks posted 216 for seven. Josh Phillipe top scored with 70 off 43 deliveries, whilst Ravi Bopara made 48.
It looked as though Somerset were going to make it four out of four as Rossouw took his tally of runs in four Blast innings for Somerset to 248, at an average of 82.6, with his most devastating display to date.
The left-hander blasted five sixes and eight fours, but Somerset slipped to 169 all out as Obed McCoy finished with five for 33 and Tymal Mills four for 32 to help Sussex claim their second win in four games.
Somerset went into the game full of confidence following three wins from their opening three Blast matches, and Tom Lammonby initially maintained that momentum by bowling a maiden opening over to Phillipe.
Luke Wright began by hitting his first two balls from Josh Davey for four and six, but perished in the same over, caught at cover by Roelof van der Merwe.
Phillipe and Tom Alsop then produced a battery of sixes to take the total to 62 by the end of the six-over powerplay before Alsop fell for 30 to the left-arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe.
Bopara used his experience to score quickly without taking risks as he and the increasingly effective Phillipe added 85 in 9.3 overs.
The Aussie went to a 35-ball fifty in the 14th over, while Bopara survived a caught and bowled chance to de Lange before falling to Davey in the next over.
After launching Ben Green for successive sixes, Phillipe chanced his arm once too often and was caught backward point by Lewis Goldsworthy.
Delroy Rawlins and George Garton cleared the ropes to boost the Sharks’ total, but both fell and the visitors were still eight short of 200 when de Lange began the final over. He dismissed McCoy lbw with the opening ball, but the over yielded 23 runs.
Will Smeed fell early to McCoy, skying a catch to deep square in the second over after Garton had conceded only a single from the first. However, Rossouw was soon into his stride, taking ten off his first three balls from McCoy and following up with two sixes and a four off the fourth over, sent down by Mills.
Tom Banton (7) was caught and bowled by McCoy attempting a scoop shot, but Rossouw’s assault was relentless as he charged to a 17-ball half-century with a pulled six off Steve Finn, helping Somerset to 64 for two at the end of the powerplay.
Three more crunching boundaries followed in the next over from leg-spinner Archie Lenham, and by the end of the eighth Rossouw had scored 73 of Somerset’s 90 runs.
When he was out to a top-edged sweep off Rawlins, the home side’s run-rate dropped and Tom Abell’s departure for 23 in the 13th over left them requiring 97 off 46 balls.
Bopara conceded only five off the 15th over and the last six wickets fell for 17 runs.
At the Close of play, Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “I think they got 20 or 30 more than we would have hoped. I think that a par score would have been about 200. It was a really good wicket, but we made a couple of decisions with the ball that didn’t really come off. We saw them take pace off at the end, and I don’t think that we were quite smart enough.
“From a batting point of view, we were certainly in the game at half way and were ahead of where they were, but you need to keep going and they showed their experience and class at the end.
“We were exemplary in the first three games, and we didn’t quite hit those heights tonight.
“Rilee has been brilliant since day one and tonight he gave us the opportunity to win the game. He showed his quality again and it was a brilliant performance.”
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