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County through to last eight despite home KO
7:48pm Sunday 8th July 2012 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTERSHIRE went down to a seven-wicket defeat against Somerset at New Road but still qualified for the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals.
The County could only manage 119-7, their lowest total in the competition this season, and 45 of those were scored by Phil Hughes off 50 balls.
It left Somerset with a comfortable target and, despite a short rain break, they reached it with seven balls left, although the home bowlers toiled in a bid to slow down the inevitable.
However, Worcestershire qualified for the last eight as one of the best third-placed sides in the group with Somerset and Gloucestershire finishing first and second respectively.
The visitors made the most of their opportunity after winning the toss and bowling, making early inroads into the batting.
Vikram Solanki perished for six, to a diving catch at mid-off by Kevin O’Brien, and Worcestershire had lost both their openers in the fifth over when Moeen Ali (17) skied Lewis Gregory to mid-on for a comfortable catch, again by O’Brien.
James Cameron had only managed four when he went to Peter Trego at slip, leaving the County struggling on 34-3.
Scoring runs was proving a slog for Steve Rhodes’ side, who did not reach 50 until the 10th over, although the occasional boundary gave the crowd something to get excited about.
Gradually, Daryl Mitchell and Hughes got into their stride with the former striking a fine six off Max Waller during a stand of 41.
But, no sooner had they got going, the skipper was caught by James Hildreth before Gareth Andrew found Alfonso Thomas at mid-on without scoring two balls later, both falling to Albie Morkel (3-30).
Desperate to force the issue, Alexei Kervezee was run out as Worcestershire lost their third wicket for four runs.
It needed a late surge from Hughes and Ben Scott, in a partnership of 37, to see the hosts to 119-7.
In reply, Richard Levi and Nick Compton found the Worcestershire attack to their liking as they peppered Jack Shantry and David Lucas early on.
Andrew conceded three boundaries in a row to the hard-hitting Levi. However, going for a fourth, the South African opener was caught by Moeen on the mid-wicket boundary, having scored 19.
Somerset were cruising at 43-1 when the rain came after 5.3 overs but Worcestershire struck immediately following a short break with Shantry having Trego caught behind by Scott.
A huge six from Jos Buttler off Mitchell smashed into the commentary box, with minimal damage, but he fell lbw to Moeen soon after.
The County dug in yet Somerset never really looked troubled. They were always up with the Duckworth-Lewis rate and reached their target in the penultimate over.
Compton and Hildreth were unbeaten on 42 and 35 respectively, forming a stand of 59.