Banton steers Somerset to tense Vitality Blast success

Tom Banton hits out for Somerset in the Vitality Blast

Tom Banton hits out for Somerset in the Vitality Blast - Credit: Ray Lawrence/TGS Photo

Tom Banton returned to form with a vengeance to lead Somerset to a nail-biting seven-run Vitality Blast win over Hampshire at Taunton.

The home side posted 172-9 after losing the toss, Banton smiting a brilliant 77 off 37 balls and 19-year-old Will Smeed contributing an unbeaten 63 as Scott Currie claimed 4-31.

Hampshire replied with 165-8, with Colin De Grandhomme's bludgeoning 66 backed by 37 from D'Arcy Short as Marchant De Lange bowled his four overs for just 13 runs.

After James Hildreth had fallen cheaply at the start, Devon Conway marked his Somerset debut with a cover-driven four, only to fall in the same over, the third of the match, bowled by De Grandhomme.

It was 47-2 at the end of the six-over powerplay, with Banton having got into his stride with two sixes and a four off De Grandhomme in the fifth over.

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Two more maximums followed off the same Currie over as Banton showed the quality which has already earned him England recognition in white-ball cricket.

But Lewis Goldsworthy was caught at cover off Currie and, when Mason Crane bowled Tom Lammonby for a duck, Somerset were 63-4.

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Banton, who had scored just 33 runs in his previous four Blast innings, went to fifty off 22 balls, finding a reliable partner in Smeed as the pair added 58 in seven overs.

A switch-hit six and two fours with the same shot further stamped Banton's innings of the highest class. He was eventually caught at long-off in the 15th over, sent down by Currie.

By then, teenager Smeed was going well, striking two sixes and four fours on his way to a 39-ball half-century.

Despite the early loss of James Vince and Tom Prest, Hampshire raced to 58-2 at the end of six overs as Short and De Grandhomme cut loose in devastating fashion.

Short cleared the ropes twice in the same Josh Davey over before De Grandhomme launched Craig Overton for a massive six over mid-wicket in cracking 18 off four balls.

The pair had added 78 in 6.2 overs when Short holed out to long-on off Goldsworthy's left-arm spin. He had faced 27 balls, hitting two sixes and three fours.

A late cut for four off Waller took De Grandhomme to an impressive fifty off 27 balls. The experienced New Zealander then took three boundaries off Lewis Gregory in the 15th over before falling to a catch at deep cover. By then his side needed only 35 for victory.

It proved too many, De Lange bowling his heart out and Waller pinning Lewis McManus for a duck. The tide had turned and Somerset could afford a couple of dropped catches as Hampshire's batting folded tamely at the death.

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