Hildreth spearheads Sabres success
Somerset Sabres maintained the pressure on Friends Provident t20 South Group leaders Sussex Sharks by coasting to an emphatic fourth win of the campaign by 84 runs with nine unused balls versus Kent at Beckenham.
In a repeat of last season’s semi-final, the Sabres rattled up and an impressive 189 built around an unbeaten 77 from man of the match James Hildreth and Jos Butler’s 48 not out.
The visitors defended their total strongly as local lad Ben Phillips came back to haunt his former club with 2-24.
Somerset, having been invited to bat, sprinted to 32 inside four overs only to lose captain Marcus Trescothick for 12 after he pulled a slow-ball bouncer from Azhar Mahmood into the hands of Alex Blake at deep midwicket.
Nick Compton looked comfortable in helping double the total until a stunning overhead stop and rapid throw to the wicketkeeper by Martin van Jaarsveld at cover left him short of his ground and run out for 24.
Third wicket pair Hildreth and Zander de Bruyn posted the Sabres’ hundred in the 13th over, but in the same over de Bruyn miscued an attempted pull to short midwicket where Malinga Bandara accepted a low chance.
In the following over Bandara bamboozled Kieron Pollard with a googly that beat his defensive push and brushed off the stumps to make it 109 for four.
Unhindered by the losses, Hildreth charged on to a 43-ball fifty and batted through to reach a competition best 77 from 55 balls with 13 fours.
He found a willing ally in teenage right-hander Butler, who even out-foxed the wily Azhar during a stunning 48 not out from 22 balls as the fifth-wicket pair added 80 in just 6.2 overs.
The England Under-19 starlet finished the innings in style, hoisting the final delivery for six in an expensive last over from Bandara that cost 17.
Kent announced their intentions early when Rob Key launched a six into the crowd over square-leg, but within 21 balls both he and opening partner van Jaarsveld were back in the pavilion.
Van Jaarsveld drove to mid-off then Key miscued a heave to leg high to de Bruyn at long-on off Phillips who, having seen Blake hook a six to long-leg, sent down another short one that the left-hander edged high to Butler.
Pollard then replaced Phillips at the North End to take two key wickets in his first over.
Geraint Jones uppercut a short one to Phillips, patrolling the ropes at deep cover, on 25 and in-form Darren Stevens lofted a slower ball to cover and marched off – Kent’s slender chances of victory went with him.
Alfonso Thomas, with 3-15, and Pollard, who finished with 4-15, duly ran through the Kent tail as the hosts lost their last five wickets for 13 runs.