Somerset v Worcestershire, Taunton, 1st day September 11, 2012

Rehman nine leaves Somerset wondering

Alex Winter at Taunton

Somerset 142 for 0 (Suppiah 73*, Trescothick 66*) trail Worcestershire 212 (Rehman 9-65) by 70 runs

As several counties have discovered this season, getting Pakistan cricketers into the country isn't an easy task. But Somerset were delighted they persevered with signing Abdur Rehman. He weaved through Worcestershire with 9 for 65 to leave Somerset wondering how close they could have got to the title.

Had they not lost Marcus Trescothick for a chunk of the middle of the season, Somerset may have been able to force the couple of extra wins needed to challenge Warwickshire. In Rehman they have a match-winner who could have been here bowling Somerset towards a maiden Championship.

Instead, Rehman's remarkable return counted only to give Somerset a big advantage in the race for second place. This pitch is flat, dry and good to bat on but taking spin - though it wasn't the surface that nearly saw Rehman take all ten of Worcestershire first-innings wickets. He was denied by Peter Trego having No. 9 Chris Russell caught behind. "Pete said thanks for saving one for me," said Rehman, whose family were in the crowd.

He was not unplayable but he did bowl with zip and offered plenty of flight. His best delivery cleaned up Aneesh Kapil after a useful 22 that saw Worcestershire begin smartly after lunch - a precursor to how well the Somerset openers played later in the day. It was a classic left-armer's dismissal: pitching on middle and leg, bouncing and turning past the outside edge to take off stump.

"It was a fantastic day for me," Rehman said of his career-best figures. "When a fast bowler takes wickets like that, no-one says a thing, when the spinner does that they say the pitch is no good! They had two spinners bowling on it and we're no wicket down so that shows I had to do something right. A few balls turned but not every ball.

"I bowled in good areas and stopped them scoring, didn't give them any easy runs. The pitch is a little bit slow so I mixed up my pace: a few slower, few flatter. And I was happy when they tried to play a few shots."

It was the best return by a Somerset bowler since Andy Caddick took 9 for 32 against Lancashire in 1993. The haul began after an hour of play during which Phil Hughes and Daryll Mitchell had added 74 runs at four an over, after Mitchell had won the toss. Worcestershire's day effectively ended at 11.30am.

Hughes pushed outside off stump to edge to Trescothick at slip and the dismissals continued in the vein of average shots to decent balls. Mitchell also pushed outside off stump to edge to second slip, Neil Pinner got a leading edge as his tried to turn against the spin and Alexei Kervezee was out lbw sweeping. The only unfortunate man was Moeen Ali who turned a ball into the midriff of Chris Jones at short leg, who somehow clung on.

Ali returned with the ball to send down 12 overs of useful, if not over-threatening offspin. He and Alan Richardson's usual endeavour managed to rein in Trescothick after he reached 50 from 75 balls. He looked in supreme touch, deflecting away anything remotely wide and cashing in on anything too full. Russell and Nick Harrison simply couldn't bowl to him, getting through only six overs and shipping 46 runs. Worcestershire's other spinner, Brett D'Oliveira, sent down too many loose deliveries.

As Trescothick was becalmed, it was Arul Suppiah who took over the scoring; more than doubling his tally in the time it took Trecothick to add another 16 runs. His slog sweep over midwicket off Ali signed off an overwhelmingly dominant day for Somerset.