Moeen Ali and Daryl Mitchell were the stars of Worcestershire’s 54-run over Somerset in their Friends Life Twenty20 clash at Taunton yesterday.
Moeen set the tone for his side’s 173 for seven, which included six penalty runs for a slow Somerset over-rate, with a rapid 47 after the hosts had won the toss.
Phil Hughes contributed 41, while Alfonso Thomas was the pick of the home bowling attack with one for 24 from his four overs.
Then Mitchell claimed three for 13 with his medium pace as Somerset’s batting fell apart from a promising 51 for one after six overs. They were eventually bowled out for 119 to suffer a second heavy defeat in as many games before another packed crowd.
From looking to have a grip on the Midlands/Wales/West Division, Somerset are suddenly under pressure following a slump in form that began with Friday’s nine-wicket home defeat to arch-rivals Gloucestershire.
Worcestershire have two games in hand and are now only a point behind their opponents. Their bowlers were far more effective on a slow pitch, with David Lucas and Brett D’Oliveira (three for 20) backing Mitchell with economical spells.
Richard Levi was the only home batsman to time the ball, hitting three fours and two sixes in his 27 before holing Mitchell out to Moeen at long-on. After that it was a sorry procession, with only Lewis Gregory (22) showing any semblance of form.
Somerset’s plan of opening the bowling with left-arm spinner George Dockrell failed to pay dividends as Moeen attacked from the outset and the total after one over was 14.
The six power-play overs yielded 53 for Worcestershire and by the time the impressive Moeen was stumped advancing to Dockrell, having hit six fours and two sixes in facing 23 balls, the total was 73 for one in the eighth over.
Vikram Solanki had made 33 at a run a ball before he was caught by James Hildreth at long-off – Dockrell again the bowler – and it was 127 for three when former Somerset player Gareth Andrew was taken by Nick Compton at long-on off Steve Kirby for 19.
Hughes was dropped on three and 15 before going on to bolster the second half of the innings, hitting four fours in his 32-ball innings.
From 153 for three in the 18th over, Worcestershire lost four late wickets, but were boosted by the bonus of the extra runs as the home side paid for bowling their overs too slowly.
Against Gloucestershire on Friday evening, Hamish Marshall led from the front with 66 as the visitors romped to a shock nine-wicket win over Somerset with 5.2 overs to spare at Taunton.
A packed crowd of more than 7,000 saw the hosts restricted to 140 for eight after winning the toss, Albie Morkel top-scoring with 33. Spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (two for 20) and Ed Young (one for 18) bowled their eight overs for a combined total of 38 runs.
Openers Marshall and Benny Howell (55 not out) put on a stand of 115 in 12.1 overs.