Somerset make it three out of three

Somerset made it three wins out of three in the Royal London One-Day Cup after beating previously undefeated Sussex Sharks by 68 runs under Duckworth-Lewis at the 1st Central County Ground, Hove.

After being put in, Somerset made 283 for eight whilst Sussex were 62 for four from 13.3 overs when rain arrived at 4pm.

Six minutes before a planned resumption at 5.45pm, which would have left Sussex needing an unlikely 169 from 81 balls, the rain returned and play was abandoned by umpires Tim Robinson and Chris Watts.

Somerset’s win was set up by solid contributions from Azhar Ali (68), James Hildreth (82) and Lewis Gregory (50) and their score always looked competitive on a slow pitch with the additional hazard of occasional low bounce.

With Luke Wright absent because of sickness, Sussex needed one of their top four to make a significant contribution but Phil Salt, whose unbeaten 137 guided them to victory over Kent on Sunday, was lbw to Craig Overton for seven in the second over.

Wright’s replacement Stiaan van Zyl added just two more runs before Overton dived to his left to take a stunning catch at mid-wicket in the seventh over off Josh Davey.

Laurie Evans and Harry Finch rebuilt but the latter was bowled for 10 by Gregory in the 12th over, and four balls later Evans (25) squandered a good start when he mis-judged a hook off Tim Groenewald and Overton took another good catch on the mid-wicket boundary.

Shortly afterwards the rain arrived.

Skipper Ben Brown had inserted Somerset on the same pitch that Sussex had beaten Surrey on and their bowlers enjoyed some early success. David Wiese bowled Tom Banton (7) and in the next over Peter Trego was well held in the covers by Finch off Mir Hamza.

However, from 30 for two Somerset rebuilt effectively through Azhar Ali and Hildreth, who added 101 in 20 overs for the third wicket. Ali was dropped at long off by van Zyl off Danny Briggs on 61 and added seven more runs when he was tempted down the pitch by the left-arm spinner and was stumped by Brown, having hit six fours.

Hildreth played with his customary fluency as he lodged back-to-back fifties in the competition and it was a surprise when he fell for 82 off 91 balls in the 41st over.

Late impetus was provided by Gregory who struck three sixes and two fours in plundering 50 off 28 balls before he was bowled by Jordan in the 48th over.

With a disciplined attack to help defend it, Somerset’s total always looked more than competitive.

After the match, James Hildreth said: “It’s another good win and performance and it’s nice to keep the unbeaten start going. We’ve won five out of five and we back ourselves to keep going, everyone is contributing at different times.”

“It was a used wicket and quite tricky but we were pretty happy with our score at halfway. We weren’t sure what a good total would be but the thing about 50 overs cricket is that even if you lose a couple of early wickets which we did there is still time to rebuild and Azhar (Ali) and I knew we could get it back, you’ve always got more time than you think in a 50 over game.”

“Then Lewis (Gregory) came in at the end and played really well. He’s such a good ball-striker and we’ve seen him do that a number of times over the last few years. He’s such a clean striker.”

“We then knew the areas to bowl, if you hit a good length then we could cause problems, we made it difficult for the Sussex batsman. I think we’re bowling brilliantly, they are confident and taking wickets and we’ve got strength in depth and hopefully they can carry that on.”

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01/07/2022 18:15 - Lord's