Somerset miss out on quarter-finals
Somerset missed out on the knock-out stages of the Vitality Blast after a dramatic match against Middlesex at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Eoin Morgan led from the front as the visitors produced the biggest successful run-chase in Vitality Blast history to clinch a six-wicket victory.
Somerset posted a massive 226 for five after winning the toss, captain Tom Abell contributing a magnificent 101 not out, with 13 fours and three sixes. Tom Banton smashed 62 off 39 balls and Eddie Byrom 44 from just 20.
However, Middlesex reached 227 for four with three overs to spare, skipper Morgan hitting 83 not out off 29 deliveries, while Dawid Malan made a rapid 41 and AB de Villiers 32.
There was little sign of the carnage ahead when Somerset lost Babar Azam for a first ball duck to the fourth delivery of the match from Toby Roland-Jones.
However, by the time James Hildreth was run out for 18 in the sixth over, Banton was in full cry and Somerset ended the six-over power-play on 51 for two.
Banton was in fine form again but eventually fell to Mohammad Hafeez in the 12th over, having hit seven fours and three sixes. The previous over from Finn had seen Abell accelerate with 4,6,4,4 as he moved towards his best T20 score.
Byrom hit four sixes in his brilliant cameo, and when Abell reached his ton off the penultimate ball of the innings a packed crowd at the Cooper Associates County Ground rose to acclaim one of the finest T20 hundreds they could ever hope to see.
Soon Malan was showing his liking for the pitch, taking three fours and a six off the second over. It cost 21 and when Stirling and Malan plundered 23 off the next over, Middlesex had raced to 54 at only the halfway point of the powerplay.
Malan tried one big shot too many to be caught at long-on off Tim Groenewald. By then the visitors were 67 for one off 3.5 overs and although Stirling fell to the next ball for 25, de Villiers and the rest of the Middlesex batsmen had a solid start to build on.
The South African walked out to strike his first two balls, from Roelof van der Merwe, for four and six as the run feast continued. By the end of the power-play, the scoreboard read 94 for two, a Middlesex record, de Villiers narrowly avoiding being run out by Lammonby off the last ball.
Hafeez was brilliantly run out by van der Merwe, backing up as de Villiers drove straight back to the bowler.
A bigger moment seemed to come in the 11th over when Max Waller held a stunning one-handed catch at full-stretch at deep mid-wicket off Lammonby to send back de Villiers.
Now Morgan took up the cudgels, striking three consecutive sixes. It left his team needing 63 from seven overs.
Morgan made sure it was over quicker than that, striking the ball superbly to clear the ropes eight times in his memorable knock.
After the match Tom Abell said: “We were happy at halfway. Regardless of where you are playing, if you score near 230 you have a great chance.
“Equally, we were aware that Middlesex are stacked with top players in their batting order. We didn’t get it quite right with the ball and they played fantastically well.
“I’m as surprised as anyone to score a hundred in a T20 game because it hasn’t really been my thing. It was nice to get there, but ultimately the better side won.
“We had plans with the ball, which we tried to stick to. The margins are so fine in T20 cricket and tonight we fell short.”
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