Somerset captain Abell continues fine form at Worcestershire
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Somerset skipper Tom Abell continued his fine form in the Bob Willis Trophy by top-scoring on the opening day of a see-saw crucial Central Group clash with Worcestershire.
Abell showed his class in striking 59 to help ensure his side posted a challenging total on a green-tinged pitch offering encouragement to the seamers.
It followed on from his 119 against Glamorgan and an unbeaten 101 versus Gloucestershire earlier in the competition as group leaders Somerset totalled 251 all out in 83.1 overs.
Second-placed Worcestershire continued to probe away, despite the absence of paceman Josh Tongue with a back spasm for the second half of the day, with Dillon Pennington and Ed Barnard picking up three wickets apiece.
A spell of five wickets for 41 runs in 18 overs tipped the game in Worcestershire’s favour as Somerset collapsed to 134 for six.
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But steady lower-order contributions from Lewis Gregory, Josh Davey and Jack Leach steered the visitors to two batting points.
Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby then survived five probing overs from Craig Overton and Davey in reaching 14 without loss.
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The hosts made one change from the side which drew with Warwickshire, with Pennington replacing fellow paceman Charlie Morris.
The visitors made two changes from the team victorious over Gloucestershire – both of them enforced – with Ben Green and Leach in for the injured James Hildreth (hamstring) and Jamie Overton, who has joined Surrey on loan prior to a permanent move.
The initial breakthrough for Worcestershire was self-inflicted by Somerset with Green run out for eight with 18 on the board.
Tom Lammonby played Tongue into the covers and set off instantly for what looked a risky single and Green was unable to beat Ed Barnard’s direct hit.
There was plenty of playing and missing during the morning session but also some fine strokeplay from Abell, who dominated a partnership of 75 with the resolute Lammonby.
Lammonby, on 12, had a let-off when Riki Wessels at first slip failed to hold onto a low chance low to his left off Pennington.
The second-wicket pair continued to prosper and Abell reached his half-century off 89 balls with eight fours just after lunch.
But Pennington, who delivered an excellent eight-over post-interval spell, broke the stand when Lammonby (28) chopped a delivery onto his stumps.
George Bartlett (18) departed in similar fashion to a ball from Tongue and then Pennington picked up the prized wicket of Abell. He found the edge of his bat and keeper Ben Cox pulled off a fine low catch away to his right.
Spinner Brett D’Oliveira came into the attack and struck in his first over when bowling former Worcestershire wicketkeeper-batsman Steve Davies through the gate for nine.
It became 134 for six when Craig Overton edged Barnard and perished to a low catch by Daryl Mitchell at second slip for one.
But Gregory then went on the offensive with four sixes – including two in an over from Barnard – and he and Eddie Byrom added 61 in 15 overs.
Gregory (37) became tied down by D’Oliveira after tea and the spinner was rewarded when dismissing the England white-ball player when he sliced an attempted drive into the hands of Pennington at short third man.
Pennington struck with the ball for the third time when Byrom (30) attempted a cut shot and Barnard pulled off a magnificent catch low down at point.
Davey (28) holed out to square leg off Barnard – his 200th first-class wicket – and the same bowler trapped Leach (21) lbw to wrap up the innings.