Somerset 282 for 6 (Hildreth 98*, Gazzard 58, Phillips 4-43) beat Essex 278 (Bopara 91) by four wickets
Ravi Bopara sent the England selectors a timely reminder of his talents with a fine innings of 91 but Essex still fell to a four-wicket defeat to Somerset in the Pro-ARCH Trophy in Abu Dhabi.
Bopara hit ten fours and a six during his 104-ball stay at the crease that was ended by a terrific stumping down the leg side by Craig Kieswetter off the bowling of Peter Trego. Essex were 93 for 4 at one stage before James Foster (40), Tim Phillips (41) and James Middlebrook (30) hauled them up to the respectability of 278 on a benign pitch at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
It was Somerset's debut in the competition, having arrived in the Middle East without Marcus Trescothick on Saturday. But they hit the ground running with the bat and didn't hesitate during the chase, even after falling to 151 for 5 with the required rate loitering around six per over.
Trego (22) and Carl Gazzard (58) opened the innings superbly with an first-wicket partnership of 48 but after Phillips (4 for 43) had smashed through the middle order, Somerset's aspirations of becoming the first team in the tournament to win a match batting second were only rescued by James Hildreth, whose unbeaten 98 not only clinched the match but will no doubt interest the England selectors as a sign of his growing maturity.
Hildreth switched comfortably between nudger and blaster to steer Somerset home, enjoying the strong support of Omari Banks (27) and Steffan Jones (30*) but he was denied the century he so richly deserved when Jones thumped successive boundaries through extra cover off the bowling of Ryan ten Doeschate to seal victory with eight balls to spare.
Defeat for Essex was their second in three nights, having also fallen to Lancashire, and they return to Sharjah for their final match in the PRO-Arch Trophy on Thursday, against Sussex.