Lewis Gregory and Ben Green batted Somerset into Finals Day
Somerset 158 for 5 (Gregory 57*) beat Nottinghamshire 157 for 6 (Montgomery 51, Overton 2-23) by five wickets. Lewis Gregory and Ben Green batted Somerset into Finals Day of the Vitality Blast as the hosts completed a thrilling five-wicket victory over Notts Outlaws at Taunton. The Outlaws posted a below-par total of 157 for 6 after winning the toss, Matthew Montgomery top-scoring with 51 off 38 balls, Imad Wasim cracking 31 not out of 15, and Samit Patel contributing 30. Craig Overton claimed 2 for 23, while legspinner Ish Sodhi conceded only 22 from four overs.
By the halfway stage of their reply, Somerset had already lost five wickets, but Gregory and Green put up an unbroken partnership of 96 runs to get their team to Edgbaston with three balls to spare. The game’s pivotal moment occurred after the fourth delivery, as Notts opener Alex Hales moved closer to Overton and prepared for a powerful shot before having his stumps scattered. The dangerous Colin Munro was swiftly grabbed by the back-pedaling Matt Henry at mid-off by Overton. The Outlaws concluded the powerplay on 37 for 3 despite Montgomery and Patel hitting boundaries off Jack Brooks’ sixth over. Henry then had Joe Clarke pouched at midwicket by Overton to make it 17 for 3. Gregory was hit for a six by Patel as the ninth over produced 14 runs. When Patel was bowled in the 13th over while attempting to swing Gregory into the leg side, he and Montgomery had extended their partnership to 69.
Montgomery managed to hold off a challenging opportunity from Tom Abell in the outfield to reach his half-century. Still, he missed another catch on the next pitch, and Overton came in unerringly from long-off. After Sodhi’s meager contribution, Tom Moores was caught at short fine-leg off Gregory, and Wasim and captain Steven Mullaney were left to raise a pitiful Notts total with some clean hitting in the last overs. Despite Wasim’s exciting cameo, which saw him hit six and two fours, the Outlaws appeared to be facing an uphill battle at the midway point.
Their spirits were raised when Wasim sent down Tom Banton for a catch behind a reverse sweep off the first ball of Somerset’s second over, the umpire’s call of not out being overturned following a referral. When the left-arm spinner clean-bowled Tom Kohler-Cadmore for a duck, he finished a double-wicket maiden at 9 for 2. In retaliation, Smeed scored four runs off the first three balls of Wasim’s second over. By the end of the powerplay, Somerset had 44 for 2 thanks to Abell’s three similarly well-struck fours. When Abell played a ball from Calvin Harrison into the leg side, the pair had added 46. Smeed then called for a second run but was unsuccessful because Hales made a quick throw to the bowler’s end.
Soon after, Harrison reverse-swept Sean Dickson for a leg-before wicket, and Abell walked in the same over after under-edging a catch behind. Somerset’s innings were halfway through when they were 62 for 5. Gregory, an accomplished batsman, then assumed control, removing the ropes from Patel twice and Wasim as he and Green, who hit Harrison over long-on for six, stylishly repaired the damage, reaching a half-century standoff of 35 balls. Out of the final three overs, thirty were required. A raucous crowd was roused to its feet with Gregory’s six over midwicket off Wasim, and he eventually broke Notts’ resistance with a stunning 32-ball fifty with another maximum over long-off in the last over, bowled by Jake Ball.
Green seems to be dumped at cover off Fletcher when three were required. However, it was a no-ball, and the free hit that followed scored the winning runs. Notts is defeated by Lewis Gregory’s strike, sending Somerset to the T20 Finals Day.
The captaincy can improve a cricketer, and yesterday’s match saw another example of this phenomenon as Somerset’s Lewis Gregory put on a brilliant display to advance to the semi-final against Sussex at Edgbaston on September 15, which has grown to be a highly anticipated event for county players. Gregory produced a scorching innings, 60 from 24 balls, not for the first time in this campaign. It was laced with five sixes, which helped his team reach the hard aim of 209 for five in a knockout game when there was more strain. In the field, he made the game-changing catch of the day to dismiss Alex Hales, the only player who posed a threat to Somerset’s progress, and for good measure, he took two for 29 from his four overs in addition to deftly managing the situation.
Along with Gregory, Somerset was helped by James Hildreth’s smooth 52 and Tom Abell’s excellent running. Abell chose a wise moment to record a career-best (46 not out) in this format. A vibrant 27-year-old from Johann Myburgh, a well-known character in this community, was playing his final game at Taunton. Hales hinted that he might go after the target by himself. Jamie Overton’s first delivery struck out Riki Wessels, and Hales then scored four runs off the successive four balls, some of which were unmemorable. He can now terrify white-ball bowlers just by being on guard. Abell’s deep square-leg drop of Gregory when he was 35 might have been the deciding factor, but that was the last instance of Somerset’s fielding failings. After Hales was caught, the run chase stalled. Overton eventually picked up three more wickets in his leg trap, including the incredibly agile Max Waller at deep midwicket, who once again grabbed everything thrown his way. The crowd was packed even though this game was postponed due to Sunday’s rain. Due to the fans’ anxiety, it was somewhat of a sad and muted occasion. They came to watch a team that they passionately identify with win, not for the beer or cider. They left Birmingham smiling and planned to visit there in September if they could find a ticket.
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