Thomas stars as Somerset go through
Somerset booked their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League T20 thanks to a 12-run victory over the Warriors in the must-win final group match.
Craig Kieswetter’s unbeaten 56 formed the centrepiece of Somerset’s 146 for four at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, which also featured a typically brisk 32 off 16 balls from Roelof van der Merwe.
The South African franchise started well in reply, but they fell away from 79 for one as Alfonso Thomas, Steve Kirby and Murali Kartik shared six wickets. Captain Thomas’ figures of 2-16 earned him the match award.
In mustering just 134 for eight, the Warriors slipped to a defeat that ended their participation in the competition.
Somerset, as winners of Group B, can look forward to a last-four meeting with Mumbai Indians, Group A runners-up, in Chennai on Saturday.
The victors will face Royal Challengers Bangalore or New South Wales in the final at the same stadium the following day.
Kieswetter struck four fours and three sixes in a relatively measured innings spanning 52 deliveries, after Thomas won the toss and elected to bat on a surface that offered appreciable lateral movement.
Although Peter Trego was caught behind off a Lonwabo Tsotsobe lifter in the first over, Kieswetter responded by taking three fours off Wayne Parnell’s opening over before the explosive van der Merwe dished out similar treatment to Tsotsobe.
They added 48 in fewer than five overs, although Kieswetter adopted the anchor role after van der Merwe swung JJ Smuts high to midwicket.
There were useful contributions from James Hildreth, who made 21 before he swept Johan Botha to deep square-leg, and the ever-impressive Jos Buttler, whose 23-ball 30 contained two mighty sixes, as Somerset fell narrowly short of the 155 that Thomas later deemed to be a “par score”.
Ashwell Prince fell to Kirby for 10 in the fourth over of the Warriors’ pursuit, and Smuts and Colin Ingram’s efforts in adding 47 for the second wicket were undone when they perished, for 38 and 31 respectively, in successive overs.
Ingram swung a slower ball from Adam Dibble, making his first appearance of the tournament, to deep square-leg, and Smuts was held by a sliding Arul Suppiah at point as he attempted to pull Murali Kartik.
Thomas was the biggest beneficiary as the Warriors foundered in the face of an escalating run-rate. He accounted for Craig Thyssen and Parnell in the penultimate over, and van der Merwe was never likely to concede the 21 needed by the Warriors off the last.
“It’s a really, really good feeling to be through to the semis,” said Thomas. “Once again this team has showed a lot of character.
“If there’s one tournament you want to go all the way in, it’s definitely the Champions League. Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”