Cricket: Somerset fall short in final-act drama

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Middlesex 160-9 Somerset 159 Middlesex win by 1 run

SOMERSET, with three wickets left, needed 10 runs from what turned out to be a most dramatic last over here yesterday. The first ball was driven for six, but two run-outs and a good catch at deep midwicket left them two runs short of victory on a pitch which had made strokeplay difficult all day.

After putting Middlesex in, Somerset had bowled well to restrict the home side to 160 for nine. When they lost their first three wickets for 14 it looked as if the target would be well beyond them but Richard Harden and Mark Lathwell took root and rebuilt the innings.

Playing sensible cricket, they first gave the innings a base and then, by deliberately pushing for ones and twos (this was not a pitch for hitting fours) and running well between the wickets, they brought Somerset back into it.

The score had reached 67 for three in the 21st over when Lathwell drove Richard Johnson into the covers. Coming back to the bowler's end for a second run, Harden pulled his right hamstring. After prolonged treatment fromt the physio he continued with a runner.

This injury obviously impeded his strokeplay and Somerset's progress slowed down. Ironically, though, it was Lathwell who was next out when he gave Ian Blanchett an easy return catch off the top edge. Harden bravely stuck to his task and Robert Turner now made him an excellent partner. The hundred came up in the 29th over and Harden hooked Blanchett for six in an over which produced 11 runs.

Angus Fraser, who had two overs left, took over from Blanchett and Turner swung his first ball for another six. Harden's fifty came next, but at 128 Turner set off for a non-existent run to midwicket and was run out.

Keith Parsons went quickly and when Harden was caught at long-on at 135 in the 37th over it looked all over for Somerset. However, Mustaq Ahmed kept the scoreboard moving and 10 were needed from the last over. Mustaq drove Weekes first ball over cover for six before being run out off the second. Andy Caddick then drove for a single before Mark Trescothick holed out at midwicket. With three needed for victory, Caddick was run out going for the second run off the very last ball.