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Vitality Blast T20 match results and reactions from today’s matches – 27th August

A match winning 77 from Ed Pollock (Birmingham Bears) today

All the Vitality Blast T20 match results and reactions from today’s matches…

Surrey v Somerset, South Group Kennington Oval, London 6:30 PM

Match Summary

Somerset 157-9

Surrey 158-4 (16.3 overs)

Result - Surrey won by 6 wickets

Aaron Finch clattered a remarkable nine sixes in a brilliant 102 not out from 53 balls at the Kia Oval as Surrey kept alive their slim hopes of reaching a Vitality Blast quarter-final by severely denting Somerset’s own qualification ambitions with a barnstorming six-wicket victory.

Chasing Somerset’s 157 for 9, in which openers Tom Banton and Babar Azam put on 80 in 8.2 overs before the innings fell away dramatically against the spin of Imran Tahir and Gareth Batty, Finch’s assault emphatically settled matters and brought Surrey their fifth win of the campaign.

They now have 12 points and Somerset, in fourth place with 13, need to beat Middlesex in their final group game on Friday if they are to have a chance of making the last eight.

Tahir’s 4 for 25 from four overs, each wicket wildly celebrated as is the South African leg spinner’s wont, and Batty’s 2 for 24, was as important to Surrey’s cause as Finch’s power-hitting.

The two Surrey spinners totally changed the impetus of the Somerset innings, after they had been given a flyer by Banton and Babar after choosing to bat first in front of a 25,000 sell out crowd – Surrey’s fourth full house in six home games so far.

But Somerset might still have defended their eventual total if Craig Overton had managed to cling on to a boundary-edge catch in the eighth over, with Finch on 33, when the Australian pulled a short ball from leg spinner Max Waller to deep mid wicket and saw the ball bounce through Overton’s upstretched hands and go over the rope for his fourth six.

Finch did not give any other chances, however, as he followed up that blow, two earlier straight sixes off Tim Groenewald and an opening pulled maximum off Overton, with further sixes off Roelof van der Merwe (both in the ninth over), Waller (spectacularly reverse-driven over long off in the tenth over) and two off Tom Lammonby’s left arm seamers in the 11th over.

By then, it hardly mattered that Sam Curran had skied Van der Merwe’s left arm spin to Tom Abell in the ring, having contributed just 9 to a second wicket stand of 61 in a mere 5.1 overs, following Mark Stoneman’s departure for 18 to the last ball of the sixth over, or that Ollie Pope was run out for 7 in the 15th over.

Finch completed his 52-ball hundred, his seventh in T20 cricket, in the same over with his fifth four – whipped wide of mid on off Groenewald, and Will Jacks smacked two successive fours before being caught and bowled for 9 by Van der Merwe with just eight more runs wanted. Jordan Clark then hit Jerome Taylor into the pavilion for the evening’s final six as victory arrived with 3.3 overs to spare.

Somerset, earlier, were flying along at ten runs per over until the two veteran Surrey spinners began to exert their stranglehold.

Banton’s 28-ball 47 was by far the most fluent of the Somerset batting efforts, with legside sixes off Curran and Clark and five fours besides – the pick of them a reverse flip for four off Tahir in the game’s very first over. Babar hit only three fours, but played his part too in an opening partnership which hinted at an eventual Somerset total of around 200.

Once Banton had fallen in the ninth over, however, the innings lost all its forward momentum and soon James Hildreth followed, stumped off Batty in the next over for 1 when he advanced to a well-flighted delivery outside off stump and yorked himself.

Worse was to come for Somerset, though, with Babar chipping a return catch to Tahir to go for a 31-ball 37 and, in the same 11th over, Ed Byrom (3) also giving the South African leg-spinner a simple caught and bowled off a looping leading edge.

Four wickets had gone in 17 balls, for the addition of only 13 runs, but from 93 for 4 a mini-recovery was quickly stifled as Batty removed Abell for 14, stumped as he attempted a reverse sweep and Tahir had Van der Merwe leg before for 2.

That was 114 for 6, in the 15th over, and from there, the lower order did its best to get Somerset up to a defendable total with Lammonby reaching 19 before being caught behind in a nine-ball Jade Dernbach over, the 18th, costing 12 runs.

Clark and Curran grabbed the wickets of Overton and Groenewald in the closing overs and Somerset needed their tenth wicket pair of Taylor and Waller to make sure they batted through their 20-over allocation.

TURNING POINT: Craig Overton clearly lost his bearings on the boundary edge – there was a couple of yards between him and the rope as he jumped for the catch too early – when he let the fourth of Aaron Finch’s sixes slip through his hands at deep mid wicket, off Max Waller, when the Australian was on 33 in the eighth over with Surrey’s score on 57.

SHOT OF THE DAY: The huge six pulled by Aaron Finch off Craig Overton in the third over of Surrey’s reply, which cleared the corner of the OCS Stand, on the gasholder side of the Oval, and sailed out of the ground. Even for Australia’s one-day captain, a noted big-hitter, it was a massive blow.

UNSUNG HERO: Gareth Batty, less than two months away from his 42nd birthday, once again showing all his experience to help Imran Tahir check Somerset’s innings with two for 24 from his four overs.

WHAT’S NEXT? Surrey finish their south group campaign with another 25,000 sell-out preparing to come to the Kia Oval on Thursday evening to watch the game against Essex Eagles; Somerset will also end the group stage with a capacity home crowd, with just under 8,000 forecast for Taunton on Friday evening when Middlesex are the visitors.

Surrey batsman Aaron Finch said: “We have played some pretty good cricket in our last few games in this competition and it’s disappointing that we are not in a position where we are relying on other results for qualification.

“It would have been nice to have done better in the earlier part of the group stage - and that goes for me too - but since the halfway mark in the group matches we have played well.

“But it was good to get a few out of the middle tonight, and I have felt much better out there in the last couple of weeks.

“Both Imran and Batts bowled beautifully tonight to drag their innings back - they did an outstanding job.”

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr said: “Our total was never going to be enough, but you have to give a lot of credit to Aaron Finch. He’s a superb striker of the ball.

“It is now a must-win game for us against Middlesex on Friday, but we can beat anyone when we get things right. Banton and Babar were outstanding tonight but there’s no doubt we need more from the rest of our batting.”

Durham v Birmingham Bears, North Group Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street 6:30 PM

Match Summary

Durham 151-5

Birmingham Bears 153-3

Result - Birmingham Bears won by 7 wickets (DLS Method) (D/L)

A blistering innings of 77 from Ed Pollock guided Birmingham Bears to a seven-wicket victory over Durham via the Duckworth/Lewis method in their Vitality Blast North Group clash at Emirates Riverside.

The Bears were set a challenging total of 153 from 19 overs after rain interrupted the host's innings, with D'Arcy Short top scoring for Durham with a half-century. However, Pollock was outstanding on his return to the Birmingham line-up, allowing the visitors to control the tempo of their chase.

The 24-year-old dismantled the Durham bowling attack with ease before he was dismissed for 77. Matthew Lamb and Will Rhodes saw their side over the line in the final over, lifting them off the bottom of the table, ending Durham's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the competition in the process.

The home side were inserted by Bears skipper Jeetan Patel, who put faith in George Garrett to open the bowling on his T20 debut. He had a first over to forget as Short dispatched him for five boundaries. Chris Green shared the new ball and made the breakthrough with his off-spin, bowling Scott Steel for a duck. Short and Harry Adair kept Durham moving to reach their fifty in the powerplay, which included a six from Adair that had just enough to clear the rope.

The weather intervened to halt the Durham innings, with play resuming 35 minutes later and the loss of one over. The two batsmen struggled to find the boundary after the break, although it did not stop them putting a partnership of 70 for the second wicket. Adair tried to attack the spin of Alex Thomson, but could only send a leading edge back to the spinner.

Short worked his way to his half-century from 38 balls - his fourth of the competition. However, a change in ball resulted in his dismissal as Jeetan Patel turned one through the gate, with the New Zealander narrowly avoiding a front-foot no ball. Durham needed an injection of pace and it came from their skipper Peter Handscomb scoring a brisk 25, including a six down the ground off Patel, taking his final over for 17 runs.

Graham Clark also played a useful knock of 26, adding late boundaries before he was caught on the fence. As a result of their striking, Durham surpassed the 150-run mark at the end of their 19 overs, setting Birmingham a competitive total after being adjusted by Duckworth/Lewis to 153.

Birmingham opened with an attacking intent, putting the pressure on Liam Trevaskis. Pollock and Dominic Sibley scored five boundaries between them from the left-arm spinner's opening two overs. Pollock continued to provide an early onslaught, dispatching Matty Potts for a six over the leg-side and a boundary in back-to-back deliveries, pushing the run rate above 10 per over.

The home side had no answer for the power of Pollock. James Weighell's introduction into the attack resulted in a 19-run over, including another maximum from the left-hander. Short broke the opening stand for 83 when Sibley chipped tamely into the deep, but Pollock stayed calm at the other end, reaching his half-century from 24 deliveries.

Short notched his second wicket as Sam Hain played on to his stumps, attempting a reverse sweep. However, Pollock was undeterred and continued to find the boundary, whittling down the total. Pollock was finally out in the 17th over, smashing a drive straight back to Steel to set up a closer finish than expected. However, Lamb and Rhodes did enough to secure the victory with one ball to spare.

TURNING POINT: D'Arcy Short was well set for the home side on fifty when the umpires allowed the Bears to change the ball. With the next delivery, Patel found turn off the pitch to slide straight through the Aussie's defences, bowling him for fifty.

SHOT OF THE MATCH: Ed Pollock found his rhythm from the off and he was a thorn in the side of the Durham bowlers in the powerplay. Matty Potts dropped short and was punished by Pollock, pulling him with power over the top for a maximum with a clean strike.

UNSUNG HERO: After the first over the innings went for 20, Chris Green opened the bowling from the Lumley End. He ensured that Durham were unable to build on their momentum, dismissing the dangerous Scott Steel for a second-ball duck.

WHAT'S NEXT: Durham play the Nottinghamshire Outlaws in their final Blast group game at Trent Bridge. The Bears host the Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston on Friday.

Ed Pollock - Birmingham

"It has been a very frustrating competition for me as I was full of confidence with the way I was playing. It didn't quite go well in the early stages, but today was nice vindication for the work I've been putting in. It was nice to do it out there on the big stage in front of the Sky cameras. I've been trying to keep the basics of my game as simple as possible and looking to hit on instinct. I'm still looking to hit the ball straight, but on the floor so if I hit gaps its four, but it just gives me that consistency."

James Franklin - Durham coach

"It was tough to score above 150 to 160, which is what we ended up getting. I think the rain coming down slightly changed the dynamic of the game with the wetness of the ball throughout the match. It was tough for the spinners to get involved in the game and become a major threat. They probably called the game in right in terms of bowling first and forecasting that the rain was coming. It was a par-score for what we have been playing on, but maybe we needed another 10 or 15 runs more with how the rain came and how the rain changed conditions."

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