Shah ton keeps Essex in the hunt
Essex 299 for 7 beat Gloucestershire 181 by 118 runs
Owais Shah's century kept Essex in the hunt for a place in the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals as they hammered Gloucestershire by 118 runs in their Group C match at Colchester. Shah struck an imperious 104 from 98 balls to point the way to a total of 299 for 7, to which the visitors responded with 181 all out.
It also underlined Shah's liking for Gloucestershire's bowling as his last century in the competition was for former county Middlesex at Cheltenham 12 months ago. Arriving at the crease after Mark Pettini was removed by James Fuller with the first ball of the match, Shah put all the Gloucestershire bowlers to the sword with some thrilling strokes.
He hit four sixes amongst his 13 boundaries before Fuller had him caught on the mid-wicket boundary. Shah shared in two substantial partnerships as Essex posted their season's biggest total in the competition.
The first came with Tom Westley with whom 113 were added in 16 overs. Westley contributed 50 from 59 balls and when he became a victim of Ian Saxelby, James Foster arrived to inflict further punishment with Shah. Their fourth-wicket stand produced 96 in a dozen overs. Foster eventually followed Shah back to the pavilion, bowled by David Payne for 66 that arrived from 45 deliveries and contained seven fours and two sixes.
Earlier, opener Adam Wheater made up for Pettini's instant departure with a quickfire 40 from 22 balls. He had helped himself to 34 of those runs from boundaries before he drove Fuller to mid-off. Fuller finished with three for 62 from his eight overs after his first two had been maidens.
The visitors hopes of mounting a serious challenge soon evaporated as David Masters and Graham Napier inflicted early damage grabbing the first three wickets inside the opening seven overs.
Kevin O'Brien and Kane Williamson, the two batsmen most capable of taking on the Essex attack, both fell to Masters whilst Napier removed skipper Alex Gidman. Chris Taylor, a century-maker 24 hours earlier in the LV= County Championship duel between the two teams, did his best to bring a semblance of respectability to his side's cause.
But, having scored a fluent 47 from 42 deliveries, he was undone by a brilliant piece of fielding by Pettini. Taylor cut the ball hard to backward point where Pettini dived full length to stop the ball and throw it back a split second later for Foster to whip off the bails after the batsman attempted to return to the crease having set off for a single.
That left the West Country side 122 for 6 and, with Jack Taylor unable to bat due to a twisted ankle suffered in the field, slumping towards defeat. Masters then took two of the remaining three wickets to finish with four for 32 whilst Napier added another in returning two for 53 as Gloucestershire were bowled out with nine overs to spare.