Nottinghamshire v Somerset, Trent Bridge, 3rd day April 23, 2010

Hashim Amla guides home jittery Nottinghamshire

Jon Culley at Trent Bridge

Nottinghamshire 250 and 250 for 8 beat Somerset 272 and 227
Scorecard

Nottinghamshire completed their second victory in as many Division One matches after chasing down a target they would not have wished to be bigger here, defeating a game Somerset fightback to win by two wickets after claiming the extra half hour.

By dismissing Somerset for 227 in their second innings, Chris Read's team left themselves needing 250 to win, which appeared to be well within their compass, after the early loss of Neil Edwards, as Bilal Shafayat and Mark Wagh put on 125 for the second wicket. But the pitch here has never been without a touch of menace and Nottinghamshire's stumbling efforts to rebuild after Shafayat and Wagh had been out in quick session eventually made for a gripping contest that could have gone either way.

That the dice eventually rolled Nottinghamshire's way owed much to the class and technical prowess of Hashim Amla, the South African who is standing in as overseas player in the absence of David Hussey. His unbeaten 64 ultimately proved the difference.

Somerset's bowlers deserve some credit for making for a fascinating final two sessions. Their body language suggested they were losing heart a little as they failed to build on the early fillip of seeing Edwards nick one to Marcus Trescothick at first slip in Charl Willoughby's opening over.

But when Damien Wright's lbw appeal against Shafayat was upheld in the 45th over, dismissing the opener one short of a half-century, the balance of the contest began to shift. After Wright's juggling catch at third slip in the next over then halted Wagh's progress at 70, Nottinghamshire suddenly had two batsmen at the crease who were still to get off the mark.

Thereafter the bowling acquired a new conviction and those who hit the right areas found the pitch was not quite as docile as it had seemed. Amla was so ruthless when opportunities did present themselves that Wright found himself hit for 18 in one over, a pulled six followed by three fours. But neither Samit Patel nor Ali Brown survived for long, trapped in front in turn by Alfonso Thomas and Zander de Bruyn, and when Read, looking to be aggressive, edged Willoughby to first slip without adding to the total, Nottinghamshire were six down, still 52 short and running out of reliable batsmen.

Happily for them, Amla is as decisive about leaving the ball as he is about hitting it and so long as he remained you felt that the job would be completed. Paul Franks, dropped on 3, went for 12 but when the chance came to stay on for another eight overs only 11 were required. Stuart Broad's failure brought the unpredictable Andre Adams to the crease but Amla farmed the strike and his hooked four off Thomas in the third of the additional overs saw Nottinghamshire over the line.

It was a strange match for Broad, who would have wanted to warm up for England's World Twenty20 challenge with a similar performance to the one his team-mate James Anderson put together at Chelmsford but instead will set off still some way short of where he wants to be.

Broad's blistering five-wicket burst for Nottinghamshire on Thursday evening reaffirmed his conviction that he has enough pace to put the frighteners even on good batsmen but as an indicator of form it proved somewhat misleading. He had begun to leak runs soon after claiming the fifth wicket and fared no better after a night's rest, struggling for control again as he had in Somerset's first innings on Wednesday, when his 19 overs cost 79 runs.

This time Somerset's Wright sensed an opportunity, slipping straight into attacking mode and putting Broad out of the attack before he had time to inflict any more damage. Boundaries off three consecutive balls by the Australian all-rounder persuaded Read that his England all-rounder would be better off reflecting on his troubles in the outfield. Broad's three overs had cost 25 runs, swelling his analysis to a chastening 5 for 84 from 14 overs, and Somerset, who had been 33 for 5 at one stage, threatened to put the match out of the home side's reach at 179 for 6.

It was just as well, then, that Franks and Luke Fletcher had their radars set more accurately. Fletcher ended Wright's assault at 78 after 71 balls, including 15 fours, by taking out leg stump - a little fortunately, perhaps, in that the ball kept low - but it was Franks who ultimately spared Broad's blushes.

Trescothick, who had been watchful at first, settled into a more familiar groove and looked to be about to end his quest for a hitherto elusive century on this ground as he moved smoothly into the 90s. However, two runs short of the milestone he fell into a trap set for him when Franks moved Brown into a wide position at slip and fed him a delivery he tried to guide to third man, only to find the fielder in just the right place.

Franks mopped up the tail, finishing with 3 for 22 and six wickets in the match to go with his first-innings half-century, leaving Nottinghamshire to chase a target that turned out to be just within their reach.

Comments