Tie sends Somerset through
Somerset secured a place in the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals thanks to a tie with the South Group’s bottom side, Middlesex, at Southgate.
Last year’s t20 runners-up, whose tied final with Hampshire was decided by Somerset losing one less wicket, experienced the same result today.
This scenario saw the teams take a point each, enough to put the visitors into the last eight despite playing their last round-robin game five days before the other teams in the group.
Middlesex appeared to be heading for their 12th defeat in 14 games when they began the final over needing 18 off Kieron Pollard to reach a target of 144.
But Ryan McLaren, who had earlier taken 3-37, struck sixes off successive deliveries to take them within four of victory.
He holed out on the midwicket boundary next ball, but Tom Smith scrambled a two and a single off the last two deliveries to bring the scores level.
Somerset had Craig Kieswetter back from international duty to open the batting alongside Marcus Trescothick, but neither of them got very far on a sluggish pitch.
Trescothick only made eight before he pulled McLaren to deep midwicket and was caught by a leaping Smith, while Kieswetter reached 17 off 18 balls when he was caught at wide mid-on off Tim Murtagh.
It was left to Peter Trego and James Hildreth to give Somerset some momentum with a third-wicket stand of 47 in nine overs, but neither of them could really cut loose against some tight bowling from Smith and Neil Dexter.
Smith got his reward when Trego top-edged to backward point after making 36 off 33 balls and two overs later McLaren yorked Hildreth, who had struggled to 31.
There were some late fireworks from Pollard who struck 33 off 18 balls, including two huge sixes, but there were only nine fours and three maximums in the entire innings.
A total of 143 for six still looked too good for Middlesex, who lost wickets at regular intervals.
Lewis Gregory was the main protagonist for Somerset, taking 3-26 including joint top-scorer Dexter, who matched Scott Newman’s contribution of 33.
But then came McLaren’s spectacular finale, the South African all-rounder making 25 off 17 deliveries.