Somerset slip to derby defeat

Somerset’s 100% start to the season was ended by Gloucestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup after a four-wicket defeat in a low-scoring contest at Bristol.

The visitors posted 242 for nine from their 50 overs after winning the toss. Lewis Gregory made 52 off 33 balls, Azhar Ali scored 43 and Tom Abell 42.

In reply, Gloucestershire made 246 for six, winning with four balls to spare. Graeme van Buuren top-scored with 61, while Miles Hammond made 48 and Jack Taylor 43 not out.

The result left the hosts with six points from five matches and Somerset eight from the same number of games.

The first ten overs of Somerset’s innings brought just 32 runs for the loss of Tom Banton. It was 38 for two when Peter Trego fell lbw attempting to sweep left-arm spinner van Buuren.

James Hildreth chipped a catch to mid-wicket off Ryan Higgins with the total on 51 and Azhar Ali was bowled trying to cut loose with a reverse sweep off Tom Smith.

Abell and George Bartlett added 55 before the latter was run out for 29 by Higgins attempting a second run to deep point.

Gregory announced his intentions with a six over long-on off Payne, but Somerset still needed an injection of quick runs when Abell was caught at backward-point off Smith.

It was supplied by Gregory, who hit sixes off successive balls from Higgins, before Roelof van der Merwe was caught at third-man off Howell for 16.

Craig Overton took his average in five Royal London Cup innings this season to 146, with an unbeaten 25, but Gregory’s impressive contribution was ended by a catch at mid-off, giving Benny Howell his second wicket.

Gloucestershire’s reply got off to a bad start in the first over when skipper Chris Dent was run out at the non-striker’s end by bowler Overton, sent back attempting a quick single.

Soon Gloucestershire were finding it equally difficult to score quickly as they crawled to 26 for one from ten overs. When Gregory struck with successive deliveries in the 14th over, having Gareth Roderick caught behind for 25 and Howell caught at point for a first ball duck, the outcome was in the balance.

After 25 overs, Gloucestershire were 86 for three. Then James Bracey, on 21, attempted to launch Josh Davey over the leg-side and fell to a well-judged catch by van der Merwe off a skyer.

Miles Hammond played sensibly for his 48 off 83 balls when brilliantly caught by Azhar Ali at mid-wicket off Tim Groenewald and Gloucestershire were in trouble at 114 for five in the 31st over.

Somerset’s bowlers were backed up by some inspired fielding. With 15 overs to go, Gloucestershire needed a further 115 at seven and half an over.

Their hopes rested largely with van Buuren and Taylor, who both hit sixes off Davey to boost the run-rate. Van Buuren moved to a half-century off 52 balls before miscuing Overton to Azhar Ali at mid-off.

The pair had added 83 in 14 overs. Higgins blasted Groenewald over long-on for six as the 46th over went for 17. Another six by Higgins off the same bowler two overs later sealed Somerset’s fate.

After the match Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “We have played so well this season up to now, but today Gloucestershire were better than us.

“I was happy enough with the target we set on that pitch and we should have defended it. However, we didn’t execute our skills with the ball at the end and it made the difference. You have to credit them for the way they managed their innings after a slow start.

“We had a good look at the pitch before the game and decided it wasn’t going to turn, which it didn’t. That’s why we didn’t bring in a spinner and instead took the decision to go with the line-up which had done so well for us.”

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