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Somerset win keeps the dream alive

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Somerset’s hopes of qualifying for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals are still alive following a seven-wicket Central Group win over Northants Steelbacks at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The visitors could only post 140 for nine after winning the toss, despite being given solid base by Josh Cobb (49) and Paul Stirling (25). Eighteen-year-old Somerset left-arm spinner Lewis Goldsworthy claimed two for 21 on his second T20 appearance.

In reply, Somerset cruised to 146 for three, with two overs to spare. Steve Davies contributed 45, Tom Lammonby 43 not out and Tom Abell an unbeaten 42.

The Northants innings was a tale of two halves. After ten overs they looked well placed on 82 for two, despite the loss of Richard Levi to only the eighth ball of the match, caught at deep cover off Craig Overton for two.

Cobb had hit the first six of the game off Max Waller in the opening over and he and Stirling looked comfortable in taking the total to 46 for one by the end of the six-over power-play.

Stirling hit Lewis Gregory for six over deep square and then cleared the ropes over long-on as 14 came from the ninth over.

However, the momentum of the game changed when, with the score on 73, Stirling holed out to deep extra cover off Goldsworthy, having faced 20 balls.

The boundaries dried up as Goldsworthy, Waller and Roelof van der Merwe shared the spin bowling duties to good effect and wickets tumbled with regularity.

Adam Rossington smacked a Waller long-hop straight to Overton at long-on and Cobb’s 41-ball knock ended when he was well caught at deep mid-wicket by a tumbling van der Merwe off Goldsworthy.

There was just one boundary in seven overs as Somerset’s bowlers took control.

Alex Wakeley was caught at mid-off to give Ollie Sale a wicket and Overton’s direct hit ran out Luke Procter for 19 as he responded to Saif Zaib’s call for a quick single.

Graeme White and Ben Sanderson also fell cheaply and, with just 58 runs off the last ten overs, Northants looked well short of a competitive total.

So it turned out, although Babar Azam’s disappointing sequence of scores at Taunton continued when he fell lbw to Nathan Buck in the third over of Somerset’s reply.

Teenager Will Smeed also fell cheaply to Ben Sanderson, but Davies looked in good touch from the start and he and Abell were able to stick largely to textbook shots in a well-paced stand of 44.

After ten overs Somerset were 70 for two and 11 more were added before Davies fell leg-before to Procter, his runs having come off 38 balls, with 5 fours.

Abell and Lammonby were content to largely milk the Northants spinners as they closed in on a modest target. Steelbacks skipper Cobb used eight bowlers without being able to sufficiently curb the scoring rate.

Lammonby hit the first six of the innings in the 16th over, bowled by White, and followed up with another maximum off Sanderson before ending the game by clearing the ropes again off the final ball of the 18th over.

Abell’s only anxious moment came from a run-out scare with him stranded in mid-pitch as the throw missed the stumps. At the end he had faced 34 balls and hit four fours, while Lammonby’s runs came from just 23 balls, with two fours and three sixes.

After the match, Somerset Captain Lewis Gregory said: “It was the best T20 bowling display by the team so far this season. I thought we showed really good control with the ball and some smart thinking depending on which batsman was facing.

“In the second half of the game we were really clinical. Steve Davies struck the ball sweetly from the start, Tom Abell showed a cool head and Tom Lammonby finished things off with some big shots.

“It gives us momentum going into the final group match against Gloucestershire on Sunday. We haven’t been smart enough in adapting to the slower pitches at Bristol in the past, but we know what we are up against and have the players to win the game.”

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