T20: Babar's blast keeps Somerset hopes alive
PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 August 2019
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Babar Azam scored a classy half-century as Somerset beat bottom-of-the-table Glamorgan by 25 runs to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Vitality Blast.
Buoyed by Babar's vibrant innings of 63 from 42 balls, Somerset raised a competitive 177-9 after losing the toss at Taunton.
David Lloyd top-scored with a fine innings of 63, but Glamorgan were unable to recover from the loss of early wickets and were bowled out for 152.
Max Waller (3-19) and Jerome Taylor (2-31) had most success with the ball for Somerset, who now occupy the fourth and final qualifying spot in the South Group - ahead of Middlesex by virtue of a superior run rate - with two matches to play.
Needing to bounce back from defeat to Gloucestershire, the cider county were once again indebted to overseas star Babar. But even he was put in the shade for a while after Glamorgan won the toss and put their hosts in on a hybrid pitch.
Having scored a brilliant maiden T20 hundred earlier this month, Tom Banton again demonstrated his credentials as a potential England player of the future, smashing 34 from 21 balls and matching Babar blow-for-blow in an entertaining opening stand of 61 in 5.4 overs.
His progress was halted against all odds by T20 debutant Roman Walker, who with his fourth ball, induced Somerset's aggressor-in-chief to hole out to deep square leg.
Banton's departure signalled a loss of momentum for the home side, bringing Glamorgan back into the game, with the next six overs yielding just 28 runs.
Unable to break loose against spinners Andrew Salter and Callum Taylor, James Hildreth scored at less than a run a ball in contributing 22 to a second-wicket stand of 41 before being run out by Colin Ingram's direct hit from mid-off with the score on 107.
Becalmed for a time, Babar went to 50 from 36 balls and then registered the first six of the innings, straight-hitting Ruaidri Smith into the Sir Ian Botham Stand to afford the hosts renewed impetus.
Comfortably Somerset's highest scorer in the short format this season, the Pakistan international passed 500 for the tournament and 4,000 career T20 runs in an innings characterised by wristy elegance and clever innovation.
But attempting to add to his tally of a six and seven fours, he perished in the 16th over, hoisting Salter high to Nicholas Selman at deep square leg.
Tom Abell was caught at deep cover off the bowling of Smith for 20 in the next over, Craig Overton came and went quickly and Tom Lammonby and Roelof van der Merwe were both bowled by Marchant de Lange as the innings rather fizzled out.
Eddie Byron's breezy 14-ball cameo yielded 20 runs before he, too, was bowled by de Lange, who finished with 3-36 from four overs.
Required to score at nine an over to engineer a first win in the South Group, Glamorgan's woes with the bat continued as their top order imploded in the face of express pace from Taylor.
Shaun Marsh edged the West Indies paceman to slip, while talisman Colin Ingram was superbly run out by Abell's pick-up-and-throw from short mid-wicket in pursuit of a notional single, a lapse in judgment which saw the visitors lurch to 6-2.
Struck a blow on the helmet by Lammonby's throw as he dived to make his ground, Selman recovered sufficiently to score 20 in a third-wicket stand of 45 with Lloyd.
Leg-spinner Waller then dismissed Chris Cooke and Callum Taylor, while Taylor returned to account for Dan Douthwaite as Glamorgan subsided to 64-6 at halfway.
Only Lloyd offered meaningful resistance, bringing up a 31-ball 50 with a six over long-on at the expense of Overton. When he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Lammonby, the game was effectively up.