Tahir and Bell underpin Bears triumph
Imran Tahir produced a dazzling display of spin bowling before Ian Bell played a captain’s knock of 107 to secure Warwickshire the Clydesdale Bank 40 crown in the showpiece final with Somerset at Lord’s.
With Somerset seemingly coasting at 173 for three after being asked to bat, leg-spinner Tahir, in his final game for Warwickshire because he is set to return to former county Hampshire, turned the game on its head, claiming 5-41 to dismiss Somerset for 199.
Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Warwickshire got home by three wickets and with an over to spare courtesy of Bell’s brilliance.
It brought the domestic season to a heart-breaking conclusion for Somerset, who have been the nearly men this summer.
They suffered the agony of losing out on the County Championship title despite finishing level on points with Notts, having lost the Friends Provident t20 final by virtue of losing less wickets after the scores were level.
Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter got the Somerset innings off to a flying start, but Bell’s decision to turn to Keith Barker paid instant dividends as the left-arm seamer took the prized wicket of Trescothick for 21 before accounting for Peter Trego.
Kieswetter perished when he pulled Neil Carter to Barker at long-leg, but James Hildreth, the leading run-scorer in all competitions this season, started well by imperiously sweeping Tahir for four.
He and Nick Compton made steady progress thereafter, mixing good running with the odd boundary in a 95-run partnership in 15 overs for the fourth wicket.
Compton brought up his 56-ball half-century, which included just one four, before brilliantly pulling Barker for his second boundary.
The alliance was broken when Hildreth was run out for 44 by Jonathan Trott after a poor call from his partner.
As is so often the case, one wicket brought two as Tahir trapped the dangerous Jos Buttler in front for a second-ball duck.
That was just the start for the spinner as he removed Arul Suppiah, Compton and Ben Phillips in quick succession, displaying a vast variety of deliveries in the process.
His five-wicket haul was completed in his final over as he had Murali Kartik stumped down the leg side courtesy of a brilliant bit of work from wicketkeeper Richard Johnson, before Carter removed Mark Turner to finish the innings.
In reply, Carter fell to a leading edge off Phillips and Barker, after being hit on the helmet by Alfonso Thomas, skied the same bowler to Turner, who took a smart catch running back at cover, to leave Warwickshire 20 for two.
Bell inside-edged Turner just past his stumps, but responded positively, hitting the next ball through point for four before launching Phillips over mid-on off the first ball of the next over.
Phillips, however, made a key breakthrough, removing Trott with an excellent delivery that nipped away and bounced more than expected.
Bell was still looking good, though, crunching Turner through cover for consecutive fours before Jim Troughton helped himself to a couple of boundaries of his own.
After the game entered a lull, Bell demonstrated his class by driving Trego down the ground for four, prior to bringing up his 53-ball half-century.
Troughton launched Turner over mid-off for four but, just when the Bears seemed to be cruising, Thomas got in on the act again, having the left-hander caught behind.
The pendulum swung further towards Somerset when Darren Maddy top-edged a pull off Turner to Kartik at fine-leg.
Clarke seemed intent on attacking when he came in, heaving Turner over midwicket for six, but, after the batting powerplay was taken, Clarke needlessly hit Trego to Hildreth at long-on, leaving the Bears needing 36 from 29 balls, with Bell unbeaten on 77.
He kept his cool, effectively settling the contest by taking 20 off Turner's last over. Although he perished with the scores level, it did not matter.