PETER Trego promised Nottinghamshire ‘a hell of a ride’ in the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast after his return to form had inspired Somerset to surprise qualification for the knock-out stage.
Going into Friday night’s final South Group match against Hampshire at Southampton, the Cidermen needed a resounding victory and other results to go their way to achieve a top four finish in the South Group.
That’s exactly what happened as the hosts, who had already assured themselves of qualification, were crushed by 98 runs, while the outcome of games elsewhere led to Somerset clinching fourth place on net run rate at the expense of Sussex.
They now travel to face North Group winners Notts next Thursday with a place at Finals Day, to be held at Edgbaston on Saturday, September 2, at stake.
Trego, dropped after a run of poor scores in the early group fixtures, led the way against Hampshire with an unbeaten 84 off just 50 balls and shared a 105-run stand with James Hildreth (39 not out) in Somerset’s total of 189 for three.
Craig Overton and Roelof van der Merwe then claimed three wickets each as Hampshire were skittled for just 91 in 18.3 overs.
Even then Somerset had to wait until the result of the Glamorgan v. Middlesex game to be sure of going through. It went the way of the Welsh county, who won the group, and Trego and co. were able to celebrate.
He said: ‘I expect better standards than how I have performed this season, but now we are through maybe I am peaking at the right time.
‘Tonight myself and “Hildy” clicked with the bat and then the whole team clicked. If we take that intensity to Trent Bridge, we will give Notts a hell of a ride.
‘There was a bit of a do-or-die attitude in that performance and the lads played beautifully.
‘At the Ageas Bowl 160 is a good score, so to get 190 put Hampshire under enormous pressure. That was reflected in the massive shots they tried to play at the start of their innings.’
Somerset began Friday night’s game among a cluster of teams on 12 points in the South Group. They won the toss and batted on a quicker and flatter Southampton pitch than is the norm.
Things began badly when Steve Davies fell to the fourth ball of the game, bowled by Liam Dawson, caught behind for his fourth duck in the last five group matches.
Jim Allenby then skied to Gareth Berg on the mid- wicket boundary to hand Hampshire their second power-play wicket as the visitors reached 54 for two in the first six overs.
From that point Somerset clattered runs with increasing ease, thanks in no small part to another gem of an innings from Johann Myburgh (58). The South African, who had smashed 87 in the previous match against Glamorgan, hoisted Dawson for two sixes over mid-wicket before carting Kyle Abbott over long-off for a third six.
Myburgh reached a 22-ball half-century, his third of the campaign, before offering a catch to point off debutant Jake Lintott. The Taunton-born slow left-arm bowler, who played for Somerset up to under-17 level, struck with his only second ball in professional cricket.
Trego and Hildreth then batted Hampshire out the game with a well-paced part- nership, neither appearing in discomfort at any point. Nor did they resort to slogging, but instead ran hard at every opportunity. Trego, who reached his fifty in 38 balls, picked the gaps in the field well. His 84 featured nine fours and two sixes, while Hildreth only hit two boundaries.
Hampshire’s reply never got going. Calvin Dickinson was bowled backing away by Max Waller in the first over.
Skipper James Vince and George Bailey then departed in the next over, bowled by Overton, the former caught at cover and the latter at mid-off as the hosts plunged to ten for three.
Dawson was bowled by Tim Groenewald before Tom Alsop, who had been ticking along nicely for 36, was well caught by van der Merwe on the long off rope to give
Waller a second victim. Sean Ervine quickly followed back to the dug-out when he holed out to long-on off Lewis Gregory. Gareth Berg was stumped and Abbott lbw, with van der Merwe the successful bowler on both occasions.
Shahid Afridi offered a simple caught and bowled to van der Merwe, who finished with three for 13 from his four overs, and Lintott edged Overton (3-17) behind to end Hampshire’s sorry chase.
Somerset could hardly face a tougher quarter-final than Notts away. But, having qualified in such dramatic circumstances, they can go to Trent Bridge in confident mood feeling there is nothing to lose.