Somerset Triumph in Vitality T20 Blast Rematch: Abell and Gregory Shine

Somerset emerged victorious against Essex in a nail-biting encounter in a scintillating rematch of the Vitality T20 Blast rematch.

Dean Elgar leads the way for the guests, but Essex can’t stop losing consecutive games. At the Cooper Associates Ground, Somerset defeated Essex by four wickets in an exciting match to begin their defence of the Vitality T20 Blast title. Tom Abell and Lewis Gregory put on a brilliant sixty-run partnership in thirty balls.

Somerset Triumph in Vitality T20 Blast Rematch: Abell and Gregory Shine
In five years, Dean Elgar scored his first half-century in Twenty20 • Getty Images

In a rematch of last year’s final, Abell top-scored with 55 from 36 deliveries, while Gregory hammered 44 from 22 deliveries as Somerset accomplished their target of 194 with five deliveries remaining. Under the Taunton floodlights, Tom Banton, Will Smeed, and Sean Dickson contributed judiciously in front of the Sky TV cameras, making the evening unforgettable for the sold-out audience.

Returning to the West Country, Dean Elgar smashed a career-high 77 from 51 balls against his old county. He also hit two sixes and eight fours, and he shared stands of 58 and 67 runs with Adam Rossington and Jordan Cox for the first and third wickets, respectively, as Essex amassed 193 for 6. Gregory turned in a superb individual effort with both bat and ball, returning figures of 3 for 42 off four overs, while Rossington and Cox contributed 32 and 30 respectively.

The defending champions had the ideal start and have now won nine of their short format games; Essex, having lost their first two games, now have some work ahead of them.

After losing to Gloucestershire at Bristol in their opening match two days prior, Essex was determined to try their hand at batting first. This time, they got off to a reassuringly strong start, with Rossington and Elgar putting up a stand of 67 in 7.3 overs.

Riley Meredith, an Australian, had huge shoes to fill after taking Matt Henry’s place as the overseas pace spearhead. Nevertheless, he kept things tight over three overs from the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion End that cost 16 runs. At the other end, though, Craig Overton proved far more costly. The former England bowler went for 32 in three overs, giving up five fours and a six, while the visitors amassed 56 runs without losing a wicket during the powerplay, with big-hitting Rossington being particularly lethal.

After hitting five fours in a row, Rossington welcomed Roelof van der Merwe with a massive six that sailed over the spinner’s head, only to lose his off stump to Gregory while swinging in the following over. At least his daring thirty-two-ball innings gave the visitors something to launch themselves from.

With the score on 74 in the ninth, Michael Pepper came and went swiftly, trying to reverse sweep van der Merwe and providing Ben Green at short third man with an easy catch. If the home crowd thought they had a chance to win the match, they were immediately disabused of the notion by Cox, who launched an onslaught that saw Jake Ball hit a maximum over deep backward point and then pull the next ball for four as the 11th over produced 14 runs to put Essex into three figures.

After deciding to bat first, the legendary Elgar suddenly regained speed and reached 50 off of 35 balls. He did this by hitting his fifth four, a beautiful out drive that caught Green off guard. In the fifteenth over, Cox made a mistake trying to extra cover off Gregory’s bowling and left for a thirty-three from 23 balls, giving Somerset the break they needed. After adding 58 runs in 5.5 overs with Elgar, he laid the groundwork for Paul Walter, the big-hitter, who made his presence known in the same Gregory over with a brace of fours and a six.

Also Read: Surrey Triumphs Over Glamorgan in Vitality T20 Blast – Jamie Smith’s Heroics Lead the Way

The home team returned, with Ball dismissing Walter for eighteen and Green mishandling Daniel Sams’ stumps to partially even the score. However, Elgar was far from out of the game; the seasoned South African batsman destroyed Green’s stats by grabbing 15 runs off the 18th and reaching a brilliant 77 before falling to Gregory in the last over.

Banton showed his aggressive purpose by driving Aaron Beard over long-on for six, then collecting luscious cover-driven fours at the expense of Sams and Ben Allison. Somerset needed a fast start. Will Smeed, not want to be late by contrast, got Allison to the boundary and then plucked 20 from Walter’s opening over with a brace of sixes to enthrall a raucous crowd.

With the score at 49 in the fifth over Banton’s 14-ball 21 at midwicket, Beard gave Essex some respite, but Smeed kept trading blows for maximums, hitting Sams for two straight. After hitting three fours and four sixes to help the home team reach 64 for 2 at the end of the powerplay, his extraordinary innings came to a sudden end when he drove the very next ball to cover and left for a 16-ball 39.

In an attempt to exert pressure, Essex used spin at both ends, and in the next over, Tom Kohler-Cadmore was beautifully caught by the diving Simon Harmer at mid-off by Matt Critchley. Somerset needed to score 104 runs at an average of 10.4 an over to reach halfway on 90 for 3.

With a straight-driven six off Critchley, Dickson reached three figures, and in the middle overs, Abell hit the boundary enough times to keep the chase moving. Luc Benkenstein’s 13th delivery saw Abell smash two fours and a six to reach the fifty partnership in thirty-six balls. But when an intriguing match took an additional turn, Beard came back to have Dickson caught in the deep for a 19-ball 26.

The excitement was instantly generated by new batsman Gregory, who pulled Allison for a massive six, forcing the home team to need 54 more runs from 30 balls. Most importantly, the combination for the fifth wicket managed to maintain the pace at about ten an over, with Abell reaching 50 off only 31 balls after hitting his first six.

Gregory gave Somerset the huge over they needed, hitting three sixes off the 17th over (bowled by Critchley) to take the rate below one run per ball for the first time. Before being caught at the wicket off Walter’s bowling, Abell hit five fours and a six. Meanwhile, Gregory hit four sixes and a brace of fours to ensure victory as Somerset’s legendary batting lineup performed well at the end.

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