Ding-dong final settled by brilliant Bell

Unlucky Somerset finish runners-up for third time this season as Tahir turns game on its head
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The Independent Online

For Somerset, the most unwanted of trebles; for Warwickshire, a victory that will live long in the hearts of their supporters. The West Country club have now finished second in all three competitions this season and this final insult, defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final, was delivered courtesy of a truly remarkable bowling effort by the Bears' leg-spinner Imran Tahir and brilliant batting by Ian Bell, who guided his side to the brink of victory with an innings of 107.

For all Bell's flair, it was Tahir who gave the match-changing performance. During an incredible four-over spell he accounted for five batsmen to reduce a promising Somerset innings to ruins. As he knelt to kiss the Lord's turf after taking his fifth wicket, Marcus Trescothick and his men must have got that familiar sinking feeling.

"For this to happen three times in the season is pretty gutting for the boys," said a disconsolate Trescothick. "It's very hard to take. I think we've got to learn some lessons from what's happening. There's a reason why it happened. You only have to look at the two crucial performances from their guys. We've got to improve and emulate that."

Somerset's day had started so well. Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter looked confident but the introduction of Keith Barker to the attack brought the quick dismissals of Trescothick and Peter Trego. The former had looked well set before his downfall, hitting the first boundary of the day from the fifth ball, a languid drive down to the boundary in front of the Tavern Stand.

That famous stand was empty, save for a few corporate boxes, but the rest of Lord's was three-quarters full despite talk before the match of a pitiful attendance. The short lead-up time before the final – the semi-finals only took place last weekend – and the late start time could have resulted in a tiny crowd but a sunny day and an offer of £10 off for those who went to the one-day international at The Oval on Friday ensured it wasn't the morgue many had feared.

When Kieswetter was out for 37, Somerset were in need of a rearguard. That was what they got when James Hildreth joined Nick Compton at the wicket. Compton didn't exactly hit it to all parts; it took him until his 49th ball to hit his first boundary but it was exactly the sort of innings required in the circumstances.

Then everything changed, thanks to Tahir. With 10 overs to go Somerset were well set at 172 for 3 but a senseless run-out – Hildreth's, for 44 – started the rot. Minutes later, Jos Buttler was plumb in front to Tahir for nothing before Arul Suppiah was bowled, the ball spinning from outside the off stump. Next, worst of all, Compton was leg before for 60.

Tahir then had Ben Phillips caught by Bell at mid-off; Murali Kartik soon followed, stumped off a wide. Incredibly, Tahir had taken five wickets in four overs for 14 runs. The final pair of Alfonso Thomas and Mark Turner added 12 to take the score to 199.

Despite Tahir's wonder spell, Somerset looked confident when they came out to bowl. Phillips removed Neil Carter, caught by Trego in the deep, and Thomas dismissed Barker having first hit him flush on the grill of his helmet. Warwickshire were 20 for 2 and, as the lights came on for the first time in a Lord's county final, Somerset's prospects had brightened considerably. They got even better when Jonathan Trott, who has enjoyed himself at Lord's this summer, was out for 17, tickling a ball from Phillips that left him up the slope.

A period of tense struggle ensued. Bell smartly manoeuvred the ball around, exchanging the strike with Jim Troughton. Bell's 50 came up off 53 deliveries as first Kartik and then Trego and Suppiah strained for a breakthrough. They got one just in time, Troughton dismissed by Thomas for 30 to leave Warwickshire on 118 for 4 with 13 overs left. Darren Maddy followed soon after, then Rikki Clarke.

It looked game on, but as long as Bell was there Warwickshire looked favourites. So it proved as he took 20 from the third to last over, bowled by Turner. He was out just before the finish but by then he had ensured Somerset's misery was complete.