Somerset and Worcs seal qualification
Somerset swept through to the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row with a comfortable seven-wicket win against Worcestershire at New Road.
The visitors restricted the Royals to 119 for seven despite an unbeaten 45 by Phil Hughes, and then powered home with seven balls to spare thanks to an unbroken stand of 59 between Nick Compton and James Hildreth.
Worcestershire had started the day at the top of the Midlands/Wales/West group and, despite their defeat, all was not lost as results elsewhere ensured their qualification and a trip to Yorkshire
For Somerset, who will hosts Essex, the victory came as a relief after a nervy period in which they took only one point from their previous three games.
This time they fired on all fronts with a sharp performance in the field followed up by Compton’s assured unbeaten 42.
They wobbled only briefly at 61 for three but kicked on again with Hildreth reaching 35 not out once off-spinner Moeen Ali had completed a return of 1-13 from four overs.
Batting was never easy on a sluggish pitch, as Worcestershire quickly discovered when their strokemakers attempted to force the pace.
Kevin O’Brien dived in from mid-off to hold Moeen’s leading edge off Albie Morkel and the Irishman then grasped an easier chance when Vikram Solanki tried to repeat a leg-side boundary earlier in Lewis Gregory’s first over.
Somerset were sufficiently encouraged to post a slip and the ploy worked when Peter Trego scooped up a low chance after James Cameron had tried to steer Alfonso Thomas towards third man.
Hughes put together an innings of some substance, as he has done regularly in making 322 runs in the competition, although the Australian was never quite able to dictate terms. He managed to pick out only four boundaries from 50 balls.
Spinners George Dockrell and Max Waller did a good containing job in bowling their seven overs for 33 and Morkel, with 3-30, killed off any hope of a substantial revival by removing Daryl Mitchell and Gareth Andrew in three balls.
Mitchell and Ben Scott both contributed 19 in useful stands with Hughes but Worcestershire had to settle for their lowest total in the group stage despite taking 16 from Morkel’s final over.