Thomas's last-ball four dispels Somerset doubts

Deccan Chargers 153-9 Somerset 157-9 <i>(Somerset win by one wicket)</i>: South African heroics give West Country side perfect start to Champions League
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The Independent Online

If the Saturday night fever at Taunton pubs was more fervent than usual, there was ample reason for this. Somerset Sabres, notwithstanding a drizzle, squeezed a thrilling, final ball victory by one wicket over Deccan Chargers in the preliminary Group A stage of the 12-team inaugural Champions League Twenty20.

The icing on the cake was that the hitherto depression hampered Marcus Trescothick made his first overseas appearance since March 2006, though he perished for 14 in an attempt to pull after a promising start.

An eighth-wicket partnership of 50 between James Hildreth and Alfonso Thomas tilted the scales Somerset way after they had slumped to 99 for seven. Indeed, the latter finished the job, which, over and above his two wickets, won him the man of the match award.

Somerset's captain, Justin Langer, interestingly, chose to get accustomed to the conditions by fielding first while Deccan, playing at home, failed to capitalise on a run rate of 10.5 in the powerplay – thanks mainly to VVS Laxman – by finishing on 153 for nine in their 20 overs. It could have been worse, but for an enterprising 12-ball 22 from Venugopal Rao, embellished by maximums to long-on and the sight screen.

Deccan captain Adam Gilchrist, opening with Laxman, after two off-side fours and a pull to midwicket for six in an over from left-arm medium pacer Charl Willoughby, top-edged a hook off Thomas to present a simple catch to Trescothick at slip.

But there was nothing elementary about Trescothick's other effort, when he clasped a sharp snick from Tirumalsetti Suman. Deccan failed to forge partnerships, as John Trego, in particular, applied the brakes in the middle overs, in addition to ensnaring two coveted scalps (for an inexpensive 19 runs), that of Laxman with a delectable, back-of-the-wrist slower delivery, after Andrew Symonds had holed out to long-on.

The classy Laxman, who opened in T20 for Lancashire this summer to iron out his previous inadequacy in the shortest format, top-scored with 46 off 35 balls. He uncharacteristically clubbed rather than caressed, notably removing his front leg to bludgeon past the bowler.

In the second attraction of a double-header, Fidel Edwards was awfully awry, not to mention being withdrawn from the attack because of a second beamer. But RP Singh compensated with a steady spell, which was rewarded with a haul of three for 23. Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (two for 20) was also impressive.But these were insufficient to see Deccan home.