Somerset set T20 record in win at Worcestershire

Babar Azam hits out for Somerset in the Vitality Blast (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Babar Azam hits out for Somerset in the Vitality Blast (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Somerset achieved their highest-ever T20 score away from their Taunton headquarters as they defeated bottom side Worcestershire by 16 runs in a Vitality Blast encounter at Edgbaston.

Steve Davies continued his liking for batting on the ground as he top-scored with 60 in a total of 229 for eight after being put into bat.

It was a total Somerset had only surpassed twice in scoring 250 for six against Gloucestershire in 2006 and 235 for five versus Middlesex in 2011 – both on their home ground.

But they were aided by some poor bowling by the Rapids, who conceded 14 wides and three no-balls and saw skipper Ed Barnard removed from the attack for bowling successive high full tosses.

The Rapids lost early wickets but Jake Libby – with a T20 best of 75 not out – and some late hitting by Daryl Mitchell, who had earlier become Worcestershire’s leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket, lifted the final total to a respectable 213 for seven, with Josh Davey returning four for 41.

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Somerset’s second win has kept them in contention to qualify from the Central Group but the Rapids, winners in 2018 and runners-up last September, are without a victory after four matches.

Davies has scored centuries on his last two appearances in the County Championship at Edgbaston – in August 2019 and last month – and his assault on Thursday provided the perfect platform.

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Somerset welcomed back Babar Azam and Vitality Blast captain Lewis Gregory who had been on opposite sides in the Pakistan-England T20 series at Emirates Old Trafford.

Pakistan T20 captain Azam scored 578 runs in 13 knocks for Somerset in the Blast last summer, with one century and four fifties at an average of 52.54. He replaced George Bartlett with the rested Craig Overton making way for Gregory.

Worcestershire handed a Blast debut to paceman Adam Finch who has impressed this season while on loan to Surrey in the Bob Willis Trophy with four-wicket hauls against Essex and Kent.

He came into the side for Rapids spinner Brett D’Oliveira as part of a four-pronged pace attack on the same pitch as which Gloucestershire plundered 157-3 off 12 overs against Warwickshire on Wednesday evening.

Former Worcestershire wicket-keeper Davies clubbed Pat Brown for sixes over long-on and mid-on in his first over and picked up two further boundaries at the expense of the England IT20 paceman to complete the powerplay at 53-0.

Barnard’s first over cost 17 runs including a six over long on by Azam, but Daryl Mitchell broke the stand with the total on 90 when Azam on 42 from 35 balls chopped a delivery onto his stumps.

It meant that Mitchell has become Worcestershire’s all-time leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket with 93 victims, edging one ahead of Jack Shantry.

Davies completed an excellent 27-ball half century with two sixes and seven fours but the Rapids enjoyed a second success when James Hildreth (26) lofted Pennington into the hands of Riki Wessels at long-on.

Davies’ excellent knock ended on 60 when he picked put Ross Whiteley at deep square leg off Pennington and Mitchell struck in successive balls in his final over as Tom Abell (21) swung across the line and was bowled and Gregory (0) offered a low return catch.

There was another breakthrough when Ben Green (14) cut Brown straight to short third man but then Worcestershire’s attack lost its way.

Brown conceded three wides in an over and Barnard was removed from the attack for bowling successive high full tosses – which were despatched for four and six by Roelof van der Merwe – at the start of the 19th over.

Finch had to complete the over which cost a total of 29 runs although he gained some consolation with Eddie Byrom (18) taken at long-on before Davey (3) was run out in the final over.

Worcestershire had to score at more than 11 an over and they soon lost wickets in pursuit of their daunting target.

Wessels (1) skied Gregory to mid-on, Hamish Rutherford (22) perished on the deep square boundary off Ollie Sale who in his next over had Jack Haynes (20) caught behind.

Haynes looked in good nick and raced to 20 from nine balls before he edged a Sale delivery and was caught behind and then Ben Cox (7) departed to a sharp return catch by Davey.

Sale held onto a fine low catch at backward square to dismiss Ross Whiteley (15) to give Davey his second scalp.

Jake Libby brought the Rapids 100 up with a six from a highish Gregory delivery in the 12th over before Barnard (11) was lbw to a Davey full toss as he tried to work the ball to leg.

Mitchell was also in good form with the bat and Green was hit for three sixes – all in the mid-wicket region – in the same over.

Libby completed his maiden T20 fifty for Worcestershire from 35 balls with one six and four fours but Mitchell (45 off 22 balls) became Davey’s fourth victim to leave him undefeated with his 46-ball knock containing two sixes and seven fours.

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