Mushtaq's mastery

Kent 271 and 119 Somerset 338 and 53-2 Somerset won by 8 wickets
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The Independent Online
MUSHTAQ AHMED, a master of his art, bowled Somerset to their sixth Championship win as Kent collapsed in dramatic fashion here yesterday. With a lot of twist and many a shout, the Pakistani leg spinner claimed five wickets off 41 deliveries at a cost of 16 runs, his six for 38 representing a best return in a prosperous summer of hard but clearly enjoyable work.

When Mushtaq feels he is in with a chance, it is almost impossible to prize the ball from him, and on this dry turner there was no chance of that. Having bewildered the opposition in the first innings, he now wrapped things up with a sixth five-wicket haul of the campaign to set alongside two returns of 10 wickets or better from a match.

Small wonder Somerset are smiling, because they are certainly getting their money's worth from the overseas signing. While others feel the strain, Mushtaq has so far sent down almost 770 overs - a lead of 100 or more on anyone else on the county circuit - and sent back 77 batsmen. At 25, there is also considerable mileage left on this Test spinner's clock.

Yesterday he was responsible for polishing off Kent, who lost their last eight wickets for 35 runs in 13 overs and 48 minutes of mayhem, after resuming on 41 for one and trailing by 26. It was an extraordinary and brief passage of play, not least because Steve Herzberg, the nightwatchman, had resisted for 73 minutes before he was finally sent on his way.

Graham Rose had started the ball rolling by getting Trevor Ward to edge one to Rob Turner, and then Mushtaq got in on the act when Herzberg nicked a leg break to the waiting keeper. Two balls later, Kent were effectively 17 for 4 as Aravinda de Silva departed for a duck. Harvey Trump snapped up the slip catch and his off breaks also accounted for Graham Cowdrey, who drove straight to Rose at mid-off.

At 105 for 5, much depended on Nigel Llong, who had made the only century of the match first time around, but Mushtaq pinned the left-hander leg before on the back foot. Steve Marsh next jabbed one to slip, while Julian Thompson, padding up to a googly, completed Mushtaq's list as Trump, three for 15, helped finish Kent off.

There was just one alarm prior to lunch when poor Mark Lathwell failed to add to his two runs of the first innings, an inside edge off Alan Igglesden taken splendidly by Marsh. But although Igglesden also dismissed Peter Bowler, Somerset coasted home.