Rilee inspires Somerset to big win over Essex
Rilee Rossouw climbed to the top of the Vitality Blast scoring charts as Somerset stayed on course for a home knockout tie, beating Essex by eight wickets at Chelmsford.
Rossouw plundered 85 not with seven sixes and five fours to edge Northamptonshire’s Chris Lynn in the standings as the visitors did light work to hunt 189 to win, although the Eagles were left on the street giving him a life, knocking down a regulation chance when the match winner had only made it four. Tom Abell (62 not out) provided excellent support to reach his own half-century on 39 balls.
It all came after Michael Pepper (86 not out) and Paul Walter (58) were mainstays on the host’s tally of 188 for five, Jack Brooks the Somerset attacking pick with two for 23.
On the same ground that yielded 477 points in Friday’s encounter with Sussex, the hosts initially struggled to master the flow after being set up.
Adam Rossington passed one from Peter Siddle to Tom Banton and Feroze Khushi flowered briefly before passing Ben Green to mid-wicket.
Pepper spiced things up, sweeping Roelof Van Der Merwe to the back square for six, but when in-form Matt Critchley missed the Eagles it was 78 for three.
It was Walter who changed the complexion of the sleeves, clearing his front leg and hitting the ball cleanly in all parts, one of his five sixes threatening the residents of the apartments at the old hospital site.
The all-rounder ran 50 from 26 balls and the stand hit 87 from 47 before drilling deep, one of two wickets in as many balls for Brooks.
Pepper however, 50 of which came in 31 balls, dicked Siddle for six on the third man as 20 came from the final.
Even so, 188 looked light, especially as Will Smeed plundered three sixes from the opener, but after running to 22 he edged Daniel Sams all the way to Rossington.
Banton briefly took over, only for Pepper to send him on his way with a stunning hold, running from the fence and diving his full length to cling inches above the turf.
If that was mind-blowing, Sams dropped a babysitter in comparison to give Rossouw a reprieve later in the same Ben Allison.
Groans from a large crowd suggested it was a pivotal moment and Rossouw bolstered the view by tossing the ill-fated Allison for successive sixes in his next over, before looting another maximum from spinner Simon Harmer .
Two more power shots from Aron Nijjar took him to 50 from 19 balls with five sixes and three fours, and with Tom Abell providing some wrist smarts on the other side, the 100 stand took just 52 balls as the Cider-men returned home.
At the end of the game, Somerset skipper Tom Abell said: “Rilee is just a freak! He takes so much pressure off everyone. I love him, he’s a legend.
“It was a huge moment when it was dropped, but in T20 sometimes you need things to go your way and we said in the middle ‘let’s make them pay’. Games can swing on those little moments and this was one.
“For the most part I found our bowling to be very good and Brooksy did it brilliantly. They probably got 10 more than we would have liked, but it was a very fast outfield and a short boundary on one side, so we were relatively happy halfway through. We hunted a lot in this competition so we felt it was in us to have them.
“It’s a brilliant win and a huge game in the context of the group with us second and them third.”
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