Somerset 158 for 6 (Hildreth 45*, Dernbach 3-29) beat Surrey 157 for 6 (Pope 46) by four wickets
James Hildreth swept Somerset to an against-the-odds four-wicket win over Surrey in a thrilling NatWest T20 Blast contest at Taunton. Replying to Surrey's 157 for 6, the home side appeared down and out at 47 for 5 in the ninth over. But the experienced Hildreth top-scored with 45 not out and shared in a restorative stand of 69 with Roelof van der Merwe as Somerset attained their target with 10 balls to spare.
A fourth consecutive home win moved the cider county up to second place in the South Group and, with three games remaining, they trail table-topping Glamorgan by two points.
Just as they did in defeat against Gloucestershire at Bristol two days earlier, Somerset's top-order batting imploded, Steve Davies, Johann Myburgh, Jim Allenby and Lewis Gregory each making a mess of the Powerplay. It was left to Hildreth and the hard-hitting van der Merwe to repair the damage, the sixth wicket pair raising a 50 stand inside three overs to put the Londoners on the back foot.
Former England paceman Jade Dernbach removed van der Merwe for 36, but Hildreth and Craig Overton staged an unbroken stand of 42 to see Somerset home and materially improve their prospects of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Hildreth's unbeaten 45 came via 33 balls and included a quartet of fours, while Overton raised a quickfire 36 not out from 19 balls with a brace of fours and two maximums. Had Hildreth not been dropped by Jason Roy at backward point when he had scored 9, the outcome might have been different. But then Surrey only had themselves to blame for a shaky performance in the field.
Somerset were staring down the proverbial barrel when Surrey openers Roy and Aaron Finch, approaching the Powerplay with destructive intent, blazed their way to 39 inside four overs.
Australian Finch was in particularly good touch, finding the boundary rope on five occasions in harvesting 26 from 16 deliveries. No wonder Somerset supporters breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Victorian mistimed an expansive drive and was held by Overton at long-on off the bowling of Tim Groenewald.
Roy fell to a horrible shot in the very next over, playing across the line and losing off and middle stumps to a straight one from Overton. He departed for 11, slamming his bat into the ground in a public show of frustration.
When Mark Stoneman suffered a momentary loss of judgment and was bowled through the gate by Max Waller's legspin, Surrey had lost three wickets for the addition of 14 runs from 18 balls. It fell to Moises Henriques and Ollie Pope to rebuild the innings, a task they accepted with alacrity, Surrey's fourth-wicket pair adding 66 in nine overs in businesslike fashion to redress the balance.
Van der Merwe disrupted their smooth progress, luring Pope into front-foot indiscretion and affording Steve Davies an opportunity to perform a smart stumping. Pope's restorative innings of 46 occupied 31 balls and included five fours. Henriques followed him back to the pavilion in the next over, the Australian pulling Gregory to midwicket for a 32-ball 26 as Somerset reasserted a semblance of control.
Charged with the task of accelerating, Sam Curran risked all against Groenewald, and holed out to the ubiquitous Waller at long-off, leaving his brother, Tom, and Rikki Clarke to hit out at the death, the seventh-wicket pair raising an unbroken partnership of 22. Yet their aggression could not quite dispel the sense that Surrey had fallen short.