Solanki, Davies steer Surrey to Finals Day
Surrey 151 for 7 (Solanki 38, Davies 35) beat Somerset 148 for 6 (Kieswetter 70*) by three wickets
Surrey became the first side to make it to Finals Day and reached the last four for the first time since 2006 as they defeated Somerset at The Oval. A 4.15pm start limited the attendance to just 10,100, with Sky unwilling to put the game on their red button service. Surrey fans have a right to feel aggrieved by the scheduling but, now just two games away from a first piece of silverware since 2011's Clydesdale Bank 40, it's an easier pill to swallow.
Through a mixture of good bowling and some indecisive strokes, Somerset stuttered to their 148, after winning the toss and asking Surrey to chase for only the second time in the competition. Craig Kieswetter carried his bat, but he faced only 51 of the 120 balls available.
Kieswetter is often maligned for his inability to rotate the strike and, at times, he was guilty of trying to launch balls that deserved a bit more respect. But it would be extremely harsh for any criticism to be levelled at him today, especially given the struggles of his teammates. Fellow opener Chris Jones played out nine dot-balls during the Powerplay, while the middle order could only give their main man five balls in the final four overs. As if to make a point, Kieswetter took singles off all of them.
His 70 contained all his trademarks, as he hit straight and big with his manufactured technique that looks so natural on days like these. Even someone of Chris Tremlett's pace wasn't safe, as Kieswetter planted him down the ground for six, before displaying some sharp footwork the very next ball to get inside of a ball just outside off stump, launching it over long-off for another maximum.
After a post-Powerplay lull, it looked like Peter Trego would assist Kieswetter. But, after an attempted reverse-paddle to the first ball of the 14th over, he lost his off stump, much to the delight of the bowler, Gareth Batty, who let out a roar that would turn an Orc white. Trego took exception, removing his helmet to square up to Batty. Players and umpires separated the two, while the Surrey fielders backed up their captain to remind Trego of the direction in which he should be heading. Batty was kept well away from his confronter, and for good reason.
The two were reunited at the end, once Batty had repeatedly punched the air with glee after John Lewis got a thick edge to third man from a full toss from Alfonso Thomas to seal a Surrey win. It was a lot less heated, but certainly not friendly.
The required rate of 7.5-an-over didn't challenge the hosts. Speaking after the match, magnum of champagne in hand, Vikram Solanki revealed that the plan was always to try and milk every run from the middle overs, before Yasir Arafat and Thomas returned at the death. George Dockrell had the misfortune of being the targeted bowler, with his overs going for 32, including back-to-back sixes from Solanki at the end of the 13th over that left Surrey needing 43 from 42 balls.
Yet again, Jason Roy and Steven Davies started well, with 50 off the first six overs. Roy then fell to a magnificent catch by Jos Buttler - scurrying from the boundary at deep-midwicket to dive and intercept a ball over his right shoulder, before it could reach the boundary on the bounce. But even the removal of Davies could not stem the runs, as Solanki's 38, along with contributions from Gary Wilson and Zander de Bruyn allowed the chase to be completed at a canter.
They could even afford some slapstick, as Gary Wilson was run out trying to run on an overthrow, which cannoned off the stumps at the bowler's end, with Zafar Ansari scrabbling to make his ground.
For Somerset, there is no silver lining, another blow on the day they found out that Abdur Rehman will not be making his way to Taunton, having been selected in Pakistan's squad for their tour of Zimbabwe. A fifth consecutive visit to Finals Day might not have eased their woes, but it certainly would have distracted them from them. Now, they have to consider some harsh realities.