Chris Gayle's exploits earn Somerset a thrilling win in the Natwest T20 Blast
West Indian star Chris Gayle began his stint in the Natwest T20 Blast on Friday with a bang as he smashed 92 from just 54 balls to hand Somerset a thrilling 3-wicket win off the last ball against Essex. Prior to the start of the competition, Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick had spoken of his excitement at getting to see the Jamaican left-hander in Somerset colours, but even he would not have expected Gayle to have such a big impact instantaneously.
After winning the toss and inserting Essex in, they managed to restrict the hosts to 176 all out from their 20 overs. South African Alfonso Thomas, with figures of 4 for 37 from his 4 overs, was the pick of the Somerset bowlers. He was ably backed up by Jim Allenby and Pakistan international Sohail Tanvir, who took three and two wickets respectively.
However, considering the fact that Essex had the likes of Jesse Ryder, Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate in their ranks, they would have been extremely disappointed with the total they ended up with. Opener Tom Westley, who put up a partnership of 90 with Ryder (54) for the opening wicket, was the top-scorer with 68 from 56 balls.
While a total of 176 was competitive, it was never going to be enough with Gayle in the opposition.
In reply, Gayle duly displayed his full might as he scored 92 off 54 balls, including 8 fours and 6 sixes, on what is a relatively small ground at Chelmsford and led the Somerset run chase. With the way the 35-year-old was going, it looked like Somerset will get there in a canter, but Essex managed to pull things back towards the end as they dismissed Gayle when 13 were still required off 11 balls. While Gayle’s effort was truly commendable, he would have appreciated greater support from the other end. Trescothick was the second highest scorer of the innings with a score of 20.
A lack of support for Gayle was almost in danger of costing the visitors as they required 5 runs with only 4 wickets in hand going into the last over. The equation, if anything, tilted towards Essex’s favour a ball later as Bopara managed to get rid of the dangerous Tanvir. However, all-rounder Lewis Gregory, who was recently included in the England squad for their rained-off Ireland ODI, kept his composure and managed to guide Somerset home off the very last ball of the innings.
Brief scores: Somerset 177 for 7 (Gayle 92, Napier 2-33) beat Essex 176 (Westley 68, Thomas 4-37) by three wickets