NatWest T20 Blast - South Group

Kent 151-4 beat Somerset 149 by six wickets

SOMERSET'S T20 Blast qualification hopes took a blow as they suffered a six-wicket defeat against Kent in Taunton.

The hosts were torn apart by Adam Milne's 5-11 as they fell to 149 all out, which was surpassed with a minimum of fuss by Kent as Sam Billings (58*) anchored the chase.

Somerset lost the toss and were asked to bat first, but Steve Davies and Lewis Gregory got the hosts off to a flyer as the score rocketed to 31-0 from two overs.

Davies (17) fell in the following over to a stunning one-handed catch by Jimmy Neesham at mid-wicket, and Gregory (16) soon followed him back to the pavilion as he top edged a pull which was held by wicketkeeper Sam Billings.

Captain Jim Allenby was next to go, caught behind for one, as Somerset fell from 35-0 to 40-3.

Johann Myburgh displayed his usual brute force on his way to 25 before chipping Imran Qayyum to Sam Northeast in the covers, leaving James Hildreth and Dean Elgar to rebuild the innings.

They did so successfully, if not rapidly, with both taking their time to play themselves in and Hildreth showcasing some useful innovation.

Just as he was well set on 36, however, Hildreth was on the receiving end of a poor lbw decision as he went down to sweep - replays showed he had gloved the ball onto his pad, but up went the finger to leave Somerset 117-5.

The stage looked set for some Roelof van der Merwe fireworks, but he was bowled for two attempting a trademark ramp shot and, once Elgar had followed for 25, Somerset's tail subsided as Milne ran riot.

The New Zealand seamer ended with a 5-11 as Somerset were bowled out for 149, which looked a sub-par total and one which, if it was to be defended successfully, needed early wickets to fall.

Kent openers Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond ensured that was not to be, however, and steadily built a partnership of 40 for the first wicket, including the first six of the match - Somerset having not managed to clear the ropes in their innings.

The hosts received a boost when Bell-Drummond (19) and Northeast (4) fell in quick succession, to Gregory and van Meekeren respectively, to leave Kent 44-2.

Denly continued to attack on his way to 33 before he was well caught by Max Waller from the bowling of Tim Groenewald, but Billings was quietly compiling an effective innings and rotated the strike effectively.

Roelof van der Merwe provided a glimmer of hope with an excellent caught and bowled to remove Darren Stevens (17), but Neesham (15*) joined Billings to finish the job.

The England man ended unbeaten on 58, which took him just 36 balls and included three 4s and three 6s, to lift his side off the foot of the table and dent Somerset's quarter-final ambitions in the process.

Somerset will hope to bounce back tomorrow against Glamorgan (2.30pm) - join us for our live blog from 2.15pm.


AFTER the match, Somerset director of cricket Matthew Maynard said: "I thought we were building nicely with James Hildreth and Dean Elgar, but ultimately we were 15-20 runs short.

"The track wasn't the belter that it perhaps looked, but losing three wickets quickly in the powerplay hurt us.

"Hildy was batting really well until he got a poor decision, and we had a good early shout against Denly turned down - in a low-scoring game, you need those decisions to go for you.

"There could well be one change for tomorrow, but we will assess the wicket in the morning - it could be that we go with three spinners."