Gloom for Middlesex as Somerset end losing run
Somerset 207 for 9 (Hose 59, Hildreth 38, Gregory 37, Sowter 3-43) beat Middlesex 186 for 7 (Stirling 39, Higgins 35*, C Overton 3-24) by 21 runs
Somerset claimed their first win of the NatWest T0 Blast campaign by plundering 207 for 9 at Uxbridge and then restricting Middlesex to 186 for 7 in reply.
The 21-run victory margin will be a huge relief to Somerset, who had lost nine of their ten previous T20 Blast matches, stretching back to last season. That unwanted run had only been cut short by a No Result against Glamorgan at Cardiff the previous evening, when rain swept in after 17 overs of the first innings. Both Somerset and Middlesex now have three points from four South Group matches.
Middlesex's reply got off to a stuttering start with captain Brendon McCullum continuing his poor run of form by chipping a slower ball from Josh Davey to mid off on 7. The New Zealander has now scored just 36 runs from four innings in the competition.
Michael Leask's off spin then accounted for the equally prized scalp of Dawid Malan, the left-hander dragging his back foot out of the crease when he attempted to flick to leg and being smartly stumped by 18-year-old debutant Tom Banton for 7. The delivery was signalled a wide but the dismissal left Middlesex 25 for 2.
Eoin Morgan helped Paul Stirling put on 66 in nine overs for the third wicket but Middlesex still required another 117 from nine overs when Stirling skied Overton to deep mid wicket from the first ball of the 12th over to go for 39. He had pulled the first ball he faced, from Davey, over mid wicket for six and there were four legside sixes in all for the stocky Irishman - two of them off Max Waller's leg spin and the other pulled off Roelof van der Merwe's slow left arm.
Morgan laboured to 33 from 31 balls before hitting Waller high to long on and although both James Franklin and John Simpson hit out defiantly the required run rate continued to climb.
Not even taking 26 from the 15th over, bowled by Davey and including three sixes, a four and two wides, could resuscitate the Middlesex innings and soon afterwards Franklin lofted the impressive Overton to long on to go for 25.
Simpson departed in the 18th over, caught at extra cover for 27, and Ryan Higgins thumped six fours in an unbeaten 35 off just 16 balls to give a good-sized crowd some extra entertainment in the last few overs. Overton finished the match by having Toby Roland-Jones caught at long off for 1 from the final ball.
Earlier, Steven Finn struck twice in his first four balls to reduce Somerset to 19 for 2 in the third over, after they had chosen to bat first. Finn's first ball was pulled low to mid on by Jim Allenby, who had scored just 3, and then Peter Trego was bowled for 1 by a beauty which trimmed the top of his off stump.
Somerset's innings, though, was revitalised by a third wicket stand of 56 in 4.3 overs between Lewis Gregory and Hose. Gregory, opening for the county for the first time in any format, drove Roland-Jones handsomely over mid off for six and also struck five fours in a 22-ball 37 before being bowled by leg spinner Nathan Sowter's first ball at the start of the eighth over.
At halfway Somerset were 99 for 3 and Hose uppercut Finn for six over third man on his way to a superb 22-ball first T20 fifty. Meanwhile, Finn was being scooped cleverly to fine leg for four by James Hildreth, who stepped outside his off stump to play the shot.
Hildreth raced to 38 from 19 balls, slog-sweeping and pulling Sowter for successive sixes before the same bowler turned and sprinted fully 30 yards toward long on to bring off a magnificent running catch after seeing the batsman sky another attempted big hit. He and Hose had added another quickfire 56 in 4.4 overs, with Hildreth hitting three sixes and three fours.
Hose drove Sowter over long on for six before being adjudged lbw to the Australian-born leg spinner to leave Somerset 143 for 5.
The closing overs featured some more useful hitting by Van der Merwe and Overton, after both Leask and Banton had fallen cheaply. Van der Merwe made 17 before being caught at mid wicket off Tim Southee in the 19th over and Overton reached 19 off 11 balls, including a huge six swung off Southee, before being dismissed in the final over.
That success was at least some consolation for Roland-Jones, whose four overs cost 51 runs, and it was a surprise that Higgins did not bowl more than his two overs of medium pace, in which he claimed the wicket of Leask and conceded only nine runs.