T20 Blast Semi Finals September 18th
Neil Whitaker Reports
Semi Final 1
SOMERSET reached their fifth T20 Blast final as they beat Hampshire Hawks by two wickets with two balls to spare.
Both teams did their best to lose the match. Somerset chasing 151 slumped to 79 for six with six overs to go. When they lost top score Tom Abell, 50, they still needed 48 from three overs.
Brad Wheal was entrusted with the 18th over and Somerset hit from it, Ben Green hit 11 including a six and a four while Craig Overton finished the over with a six. In the 19th over Green hit 16 with two sixes. He wanted to end the over with another six and tried the long handle and found Tom Prest at long on.
With 10 needed from the last over Hampshire skipper JamesVince restricted Somerset to two runs from the first two balls. But then Josh Davey smoked Wheal for a six and with Hampshire players encircling him, he clipped the fourth ball off his legs to the mid wicket boundary.
Somerset captain Lewis Gregory won the toss and put the Hampshire Hawks in and got an early breakthrough. Opener Toby Albert charged Davey and drove him inches wide of the diving Will Smed at point as the ball ran to the boundary. But he was on his way back to the hutch by the end of the over when tried to scoop Davey but simply helped on its way to stumper Tom Banton.
They were soon two down when Vince tried to cut Overton but top edged it to Banton. He had been given a life on one when he gave a simple return catch to Overton who failed to cling on to the ball.
Davey got his second wicket when he bowled Priest through the gate for a duck. Joe Weatherley was lucky not to be Davey’s third victim. Weatherley skied him and Banton ran from behind the stumps to mid wicket to take the catch. As Weatherley walked towards Liam Dawson, he stopped Weatherley and pointed out that Somerset had three players out of the circle
What an escape that was, Wetherley went on to top score for Hampshire with 71 from 50 balls including five sixes. He pulled Overton for the first six of the match just out of Abell’s reach on the boundary. In the next over he swept Davey for an even bigger six.
He shared in the three major partnerships in the Hampshire innings of 150: 39 with Dawson, 31 with James Fuller and 22 with Chris Wood. 18 of the 22 came from three big sixes by Wood off Marchant De Lange but going for another one he was bowled by Davey.
Dawson got a leading edge on 17 to Green but Gregory at short cover couldn’t hold on to the ball as he sipped but the drop only cost one run as Dawson ended the over by missing a straight ball from Green and was bowled.
Weatherley brought up his fifty when he played Lewis Goldsworthy out in the covers but didn’t set off but his partner Fuller did eventually Weatherley did and beat the casual throw to bring up his fifty.
Fuller drilled Rodolf Van Der Merwe for a big six over the mid wicket boundary. After the confusion over the single that brought up Weatherley’s fifty it was inevitable that the partnership would be broken by a run out. Fuller played Van der Merwe out to mid wicket and set off for a single. Weatherley responded then went back and Fuller was run out by a mile.
In the penultimate over Weatherley clipped de Lange for a six over mid wicket followed by a six over square leg. But going for a third he was caught by Abell running in from the mid wicket boundary. Two balls later Scott Currie was beaten by Davey’s pace and was bowled.
In Somerset’s chase Banton went for a big hit off Wheal but found Prest on the mid wicket boundary. Van Der Merwe drove Currie through mid on but Vince took a low catch. After the umpires reviewed it Van Der Merwe was back in the hutch. Smeed got a leading edge to a pull off Wood and found Vince at mid off.
At 29 for three in the fifth over Somerset needed a partnership to steady their ship but they lost two more wickets with the score on 34. First Abell turned Mason Crane to mid wicket and his partner Goldsworthy turned for a second and was sent back by Abell failing to beat Fuller’s throw from mid on. Next ball Crane trapped Tom Lammonby leg before.
Abell gracefully placed Dawson over mid off and long off boundary for a six. Two balls later Gregory tried to pull Dawson through mid wicket but missed the ball and was bowled.
Abell smoked Crane for a six over mid wicket and 54 needed from four overs he pulled Currie to the square leg boundary. He reached his eighth T20 fifty and then got too far under a drive off Currie and found Fuller at long on. As left the pitch it looked Somerset’s hopes of reaching another final had ended.
Semi Final 2
VETERAN Darren Stevens hit an unbeaten 47 and saw the Kent Spitfires to 168 for eight in their 20 overs as the Kent Spitfires beat the Sussex Sharks by 21 runs with five balls to spare.
Yet when he came to the crease he had to face a hat trick ball from Tyrone Mills. The paceman had dismissed Jack Leaning and Jordan Cox and the Spitfires were 94 for five with eight overs to bat.
The hat trick ball from Mills was a waste. It wasn’t on target, it was wide outside the off stump and chest high. The Spitfires were scoring at a faster rate than both Hampshire and Somerset did in their first 10 overs but their captain Sam Billings, who decided to bat after winning the toss, looked to have lost patience, played across the line to Ravi Bopara and was bowled. A run was added when Leaning was beaten by the pace of Mills and was bowled. Mills got on a hat trick when Cox edged a drive and stumper Phil Salt took an easy catch.
Stevens joined Daniel Bell-Drummond and the pair added 42 in five overs to post a competitive score for the Spitfires to chase. Bell-Drummond was the Spitfires top scorer with 81. He drilled Mills straight for their first six and the Spitfires fifty came in the fifth over. At that moment batting looked easy for the Spitfires. That six was Bell-Drummond’s only six in his fifty which came from 29 balls with five fours.
He looked at ease at the crease when flicked he flicked George Garton off his hips just evading David Wiese on the fine leg boundary. In the next over he drilled Chris Jordan but found Bopara on the deep mid wicket boundary.
Stevens drove Bopara to the extra cover boundary, he then managed to squeeze Garton off the cue end of the bat to third man boundary. He easily guided Jordan off his legs to the fine leg boundary and finished the over by lofting him over the inner circle to the extra cover boundary.
Mills got his third wicket when Grant Stewart moved his front leg out of the way for a big hit but top edged it to Salt. In the final over Stevens had a swing and a miss at Mills, Qais Ahmed ran but Stevens didn’t move and Qais Ahmed was run out by miles. Stevens knew what he was doing by guiding the next ball to the point boundary.
The Spitfires lost an early wicket when Zak Crawley went down the pitch to Garton, had a big swing and was bowled. Joe Denly tried repeating Bell-Drummond’s six but took his hand off his bat and Jordan at mid on took the catch.
Salt went down the wicket to Fred Klaassen and cue ended it to stumper Billings who took a comfortable catch. It was the first of the left arm era four wickets. Sussex captain Luke Wright tried to hit Matt Milnes out of the ground but got a thick bottom edge and played on. The Sharks lost their third wicket with the penultimate ball of the powerplay. Delroy Rawlins advanced towards Klaassen to flat bat him but sliced it to Leaning coming in off the point boundary.
When Stevens was brought into the attack he struck with his first ball as Wiese chopped on for three. Stevens didn’t have it all his own way because at the end of the over Bopara launched him over the long on boundary for a straight six.
Bopara played forward to Qais Ahmed and misread his leg spinner and edged it to Billings.
At the halfway stage the Sharks needed 107 with five wickets left. Garton who came in at 57 for five in the ninth over went on to be the Sharks top scorer with 41. He reversed swept Leaning to the third man boundary and in the next over the swept Qais Ahmed over the square leg boundary fort a flat six
Garton was lucky not to become Qais Ahmed’s second victim when he underedge him, Billings missed the ball and it ran to the third man boundary. He hit the next ball just wide off long off for another four and finished the over by hitting a six over square leg.
The Spitfires got rid of Garton in the next over when Milnes cramped him for space and he could only edge his drive to Stewart at backward point. But while Jordan was at the crease the Sharks were always in with a chance especially after he hit a six to get to a manageable rate. He tried for another six but found Bell-Drummond on the long off boundary.
Mills was deceived by a slower ball and was through his shot before he was bowled by Milnes. With 22 needed to win off the last over Archie Lenham pulled the first ball from Klaassen to Qais Ahmed at short fine leg.September 20, 2021 8:54 am