Essex come out on top at Chelmsford

Despite a strong fielding performance Somerset suffered their second NatWest T20 Blast defeat in a row after Essex secured their first win of the campaign at the third attempt as their bowlers defended a total of 170 for six at the CloudFM County Ground, Chelmsford.

Simon Harmer claimed three for 39 from four overs whilst Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir, posted figures of one for 17 from his 24 balls and Paul Walter took two wickets in the final over to finish with three for 28.

Somerset were undone by two wickets in five balls by Harmer mid-innings and were unable to keep up with the required run rate, falling short by 22 runs.

Essex had struggled to penetrate some outstanding Somerset fielding and were indebted to Ryan ten Doeschate’s 37-ball 56 and some late hitting by Ashar Zaidi, who included three sixes in his 35, for setting what turned out to be a match winning total.

Chasing 171, Somerset lost Johann Myburgh to a top-edge that lobbed to Harmer at backward point to give Jamie Porter his first T20 wicket. Two wickets in the eighth over for Harmer knocked the stuffing out of Somerset’s reply after they had reached 47 for one. He had Jim Allenby caught in the covers by ten Doeschate and Peter Trego pouched on the long-off boundary by Tom Westley.

Steven Davies was next to go when he was caught behind. Suddenly Somerset were 58 for four and nine overs gone.

Like Essex, Somerset were struggling to get the ball away on a slow pitch, but Adam Hose and James Hildreth tried the aerial route with straight sixes off Zaidi and Bopara respectively. But when Hildreth attempted to do the same to Harmer he was caught by ten Doeschate diving forward on the long-leg boundary for 27.

The run-rate, which started at eight and a half, approached 13 with six overs left. The wickets continued to fall as Hose got a bottom edge to Amir to give James Foster his second catch behind. Just as importantly, the Pakistan paceman’s over went for just two runs.

Lewis Gregory lofted Paul Walter for a straight six and an edged four before he was caught behind for a belligerent 23 off 12 balls. But time and overs were running out for Somerset. They required 36 from 12 balls with Amir restricting them to just eight from the penultimate over.

Craig Overton went for broke but was caught at cow corner by Dan Lawrence before Tim Groenewald was held by Zaidi to give Walter two wickets in the final over.

Essex had looked in some trouble themselves from the start of their innings after Somerset won the toss and put the home side in. Indeed they were 36 for three in the sixth over. Lawrence started the rot when he lost his off-stump going for an ungainly heave against Lewis Gregory.

He was followed swiftly by Varun Chopra who was reprieved by Adam Hose’s dropped catch at deep mid-on, but next ball skied Craig Overton and Tim Groenewald took the catch at short third man. Westley then departed when he played over a slower delivery from Groenewald.

Ravi Bopara and ten Doeschate set about a repair job, turning singles into twos, with the captain upping the tempo with a straight six and a one-bounce four off successive balls from Roelof van der Merwe. When the partnership had reached 50 inside six overs though, Max Waller took a brilliant return catch low to his left to remove Bopara for 24.

Essex became bogged down in the middle overs before Zaidi pulled Waller for successive sixes over the short midwicket boundary and out of the ground. Ten Doeschate hooked Overton for four before pushing a two into the on-side to reach fifty off 34 balls that included five fours and a six. However, he departed in the penultimate over, caught on the long-off boundary by Overton diving forward.

Zaidi launched his third six over midwicket in the same over, but was caught out of his ground for 35 when James Foster hit the ball straight back to van der Merwe who turned and removed the bails.

Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “Full credit to the Essex bowlers. They know the pitch and they showed how to ultilise it, when to bowl slower balls, when to bowl back of a length balls, and they made it tough for our batsmen. You only have to look at our strike rate and that shows that we took a good number of balls before getting to 10 and 12. That got us behind the rate and made it very tough for the back-end. But you credit the Essex bowlers for that.”

“We’re two games in, Essex were in the same position as us before this game and there is a long way to go in the competition. We’re not too downhearted. It’s just not happening at the minute. But one game can turn all that, one great partnership along the way can turn it. Let’s hope it’s at Cardiff at the weekend.”

The match scorecard can be viewed here