Semi-final heartbreak for Somerset

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Warwickshire will face Surrey in the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s on September 17 after beating Somerset by eight runs in a thrilling, sun-soaked semi-final at Edgbaston.

After choosing to bat, the home side amassed 284 for four, thanks to Ian Bell’s unbeaten 94 (90 balls, seven fours and two sixes) and Sam Hain’s 86 (106 balls, six fours).

Peter Trego’s 58 (80 balls, four fours, one six) then took Somerset to 145 for three before the innings was hit by four wickets, all lbw, in 12 balls from Jeetan Patel.

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The Kiwi returned to end a thrilling counter-attack from Ryan Davies (46 from 33 balls) with yet another lbw decision to finish with five for 42 as Somerset’s tenacious challenge fell just short at 276 for nine.

Warwickshire were given a solid start as openers Hain and Jonathan Trott added 90 in 18.2 overs before the latter chipped a return catch to Roelof van der Merwe.

Somerset’s bowlers took the pace off the ball well to prevent a mid-innings run-charge and Hain and Bell added 88 in 17.3 before Hain lifted Lewis Gregory to deep mid-wicket.

Tim Ambrose (22) and Laurie Evans (19) were caught at mid-on but Bell supplied late impetus with 16 off three balls from van der Merwe.

Somerset soon lost their openers as Johann Myburgh inside-edged Chris Wright and was well-caught by Ambrose, his last act before being replaced by substitute keeper Alex Mellor, summoned from home in Stoke-on-Trent after Somerset graciously agreed to the switch.  Jim Allenby’s run-a-ball 22 ended when he fell lbw to Olly Hannon-Dalby.

Trego and Tom Abell added 75 in 18 overs and after Abell fatally top-edged a pull at Wright, Trego passed 50 for the 26th time in limited-overs cricket and celebrated with a six off Patel only for the Kiwi to gain revenge with an lbw decision two balls later.

Three more lbw verdicts quickly went Patel’s way.  Lewis Gregory and van der Merwe paid for swinging across the line and Overton copped an arguable decision first ball.

That left Somerset 161 for seven but 19-year-old Davies joined James Hildreth to add 71 in ten overs.  Hannon-Dalby returned to have Hildreth (42) caught at cover, and when Patel returned to snare a fifth leg-before shout, against the reverse-sweeping Davies, last pair Tim Groenewald and Max Waller needed to find 51.

They took it down to 16 needed from the last six balls but Hannon-Dalby held his nerve to deliver a superb final over right up in the block-hole.

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After the game a clearly disappointed Jim Allenby said: “I thought that they got 20 runs too many when they batted and that the wicket was going to deteriorate more than it did but it held together really well.  All of their big players rocked up today, so fair play to them.

“It was a terrific fighting performance from our lower order, but the boys have been doing that all of the year.  They have shown a lot of fight.  Nobody gives up in this team and that is why we have got through to the semi-final.  That’s what we want going forward and it wasn’t surprising to me that they performed like they did.  We got a little bit closer than I thought at one stage, but the guys in the team were not giving up and got us into that position.

“I am hugely proud of the whole team but we couldn’t quite get there today.  I think we are two years away from being a really good side so to get to a semi-final like this I see as a real achievement.  People can see where we are going and how we are getting there which is quite encouraging so I am really proud.  For the guys to show the spirit to get that close is all credit to them.”