Somerset's lights go out

If this is what it takes to fill a cricket ground to capacity and keep the crowd noisily entertained, then bring on the lights, the stunts, the dancing girls and the blasts of pop music.

If this is what it takes to fill a cricket ground to capacity and keep the crowd noisily entertained, then bring on the lights, the stunts, the dancing girls and the blasts of pop music.

The Taunton ground has not been so alive since Viv Richards, Joel Garner and Ian Botham were strutting across its turf. Blessed with perfect late-summer weather, all the home supporters needed was a win. They were denied, for the second time in three days.

Somerset, who a week ago had their fingertips on the National League trophy, have not taken to floodlights, going down by a run at Hove on Monday night and now to a determined team effort from Leicestershire.

While Mike Burns and Keith Parsons were smiting 134 runs at the required rate, every blow excitedly cheered, Leicestershire looked as if they could be denied the victory they had deserved after recovering from the loss of pinch-hitter Anil Kumble to the fourth ball of the game.

The Somerset reply seemed over before it had properly begun when, in the awkward twilight, they were cut down to 41 for 4, but Burns and Parsons improvised a remarkable recovery.

At the death, Leicester had an unlikely bowling hero. When the captain Vince Wells tossed the ball to Darren Maddy, it seemed more desperation than shrewdness. But Maddy's gentle line-and-length persuaded Parsons to spoon the ball deep to mid- wicket, and the vital stand was broken. The bowler then nipped out three more, just to make sure.

Earlier Jon Dakin, looming as large as an American footballer without any help from padding, hit three steepling sixes and faced just 49 balls in an innings that exposed the raggedness of the home bowling. His undefeated 68 was comfortably his highest in this competition, and with run-a-ball contributions from Wells, Maddy and Darren Stevens, the visitors were allowed to compile a target testing even on this compact ground.

At 10.15pm Dakin knocked over Steffan Jones's wicket and the Taunton carnival was over. Leicester now have new hope of staying in the First Division, while Somerset must recapture urgent momentum.

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