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Essex fail in t20 Finals Day bid with 27-run defeat to Somerset
9:08pm Tuesday 24th July 2012 in Essex County Cricket Club news
ESSEX'S hopes of reaching the Friends Life t20 Finals Day were dashed as they lost by 27 run to Somerset at Taunton.
James Hildreth's 33-ball half-century helped Somerset to Finals Day for the fourth successive year and raised hopes that they could lift the trophy for the first time since 2005.
Perennial runners-up in recent seasons, the home side ran up 175 for six in an entertaining quarter-final at Taunton, watched by a crowd of nearly 7,000 basking in the sunshine.
Essex never looked in the hunt after losing early wickets, but a late blitz by Ryan ten Doeschate, who hit 47 off 24 balls, almost turned the game before they were bowled out for 148.
The visitors were gifted the perfect start after winning the toss when Craig Kieswetter, fresh from two centuries over the weekend, decided he was in good enough form to hit the first ball of the match from left-arm spinner Tim Phillips for six. Instead he found the safe hands of Alastair Cook, who barely had to move at long-off.
That brought in Marcus Trescothick, making only his second appearance following ankle surgery in April. Two early boundaries suggested the Somerset skipper was in the mood to make up for lost time.
Richard Levi succeeded where Kieswetter had failed in dispatching Phillips over the long-off boundary for what proved the only six of the innings.
Trescothick swung Reece Topley's first ball to backward square for four, but made a thinner connection with the second and was brilliantly caught by the diving Graham Napier at short fine-leg for 19.
Somerset were 54 for two after the six overs of power play, but then lost Levi for 20, caught behind by Foster off Topley.
Hildreth swept two boundaries off Phillips as 15 were added in the ninth over. Jos Buttler then greeted Ravi Bopara's introduction into the attack with sweetly timed fours through mid-off and extra cover.
Buttler was looking in prime form, but on 33 he misjudged a lofted shot to long-off where Cook took another straightforward catch to give Topley a third wicket.
Hildreth took over the mantle and pulled James Franklin for two boundaries in the Kiwi's opening over, which ended with Somerset 111 for four after 13.
Albie Morkel departed for eight to a third catch by Cook, at long-on off Masters, who then felt the weight of Hildreth's blade as the batsman cut loose with four boundaries in succession to reach his half-century.
By the time Hildreth was run out by Phillips attempting a second to keep the strike Somerset were 157 for six in the 18th over and sure of a competitive total.
Essex hopes of scoring 176 to win suffered a double blow in the opening three overs as Mark Pettini was caught at mid-on for two off Alfonso Thomas, then Bopara chipped his second ball from Peter Trego straight to Morkel at midwicket.
Owais Shah hoisted Lewis Gregory for six over deep square, but then fell for 13 to a catch at third-man by George Dockrell off Morkel to make it 23 for three in the fifth over.
Essex already required more than ten an over. After the power play they were becalmed on 31 for three and soon James Franklin was run out by Gregory's accurate throw from third man attempting a second run.
It seemed all over as a contest when Cook top-edged a pull shot off Trego and was well caught by Levi running around from short fine leg. After 10 overs the Essex innings was in tatters at 56 for five.
Skipper Foster did his best with a defiant 26 off 15 balls before a ball from Dockrell stopped on him and he gave a return catch.
When the big-hitting Napier fell to a top-edged pull the visitors' fate appeared sealed.
Ten Doeschate had other ideas and three sixes had home fans on the edge of their seats until he fell in the penultimate over.