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T20: Middlesex star De Villiers demolishes Somerset

PUBLISHED: 17:23 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:23 04 August 2019

South Africa's AB De Villiers hits out (pic Paul Harding/PA)

South Africa's AB De Villiers hits out (pic Paul Harding/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

AB de Villiers demolished Somerset with a magnificent unbeaten 88 as Middlesex got their Vitality Blast campaign back on track with a 35-run victory at Richmond.

De Villiers bludgeoned nine sixes and a four in his 35-ball knock - taking at least one maximum off all but one of the Somerset bowlers - to set up his side's match-winning total of 215-4.

Although in-form opener Tom Banton struck 41 off 25 balls to give Somerset hope of chasing that down, the visitors crumbled to 180 all out following his dismissal by leg-spinner Nathan Sowter.

Sowter returned 4-29 - his best figures of the season - to secure Middlesex's fourth win from six games, while Somerset slip back after failing to build on their win over Surrey two days earlier.

Dawid Malan (56) and Paul Stirling (31) laid the foundations with an opening partnership of 78 after the Seaxes had been inserted on a ground where they had won only three of their previous 14 games.

Stirling never quite settled into his rhythm, with the Somerset bowlers tucking him up on his pads, and he was first to depart after top-edging a hook off Craig Overton into the hands of deep mid-wicket.

However, Malan's timing and placement was spot on as he consistently picked the slower delivery from seamers and spinners alike and on-drove Tom Lammonby for four to bring up his half-century from 33 balls.

Lammonby (2-32) took revenge in his next over when the Middlesex captain skied to Tom Abell at mid-off and the young left-armer also went on to claim the scalp of England's World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan (11), who perished in identical fashion.

But De Villiers continued to flay the bowling, racing to his half-century from just 24 balls as he deposited Jerome Taylor for another colossal six over mid-wicket.

The South African added 73 in tandem with John Simpson, who thrashed a perky 21 off 14 before holing out to the final delivery of the innings.

Mujeeb Ur-Rahman struck an early blow when Somerset began their reply, bowling Babar Azam - who went into the match as the tournament's leading run-scorer - with just four to his name.

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However, Banton (41) and James Hildreth unleashed a ferocious counter-attack against Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones, blazing a second-wicket partnership of 66 from only 25 balls.

Hildreth hit 28 from 11 deliveries before he chopped on to Finn, but it was the wicket of Banton that proved decisive - and Sowter was the man to collect it, trapping the opener leg before as he attempted to sweep.

That parked a Somerset collapse, with Sowter having Ed Byrom (4) caught at backward point just two balls later and going on to claim the scalps of Lammonby (8) and Craig Overton (1).

Abell did his best to retrieve the situation with 41 from 33 balls, but the visitors' chances were all but extinguished when he fell to Finn's diving catch at third man.

Turning Point: Sowter's knack of taking key wickets at vital moments was in evidence once again when he removed danger man Banton with his second delivery - and captured another wicket two balls later.

Shot of the day: Each of De Villiers' nine maximums was fairly breathtaking, but the one where he stepped back to Waller and hoisted the spinner high over the long cover boundary was the most majestic of the lot.

Unsung hero: Malan's classy innings of 56 from 37 balls may have gone somewhat under the radar, but it was instrumental in paving the way for De Villiers to wreak carnage later on.

Up next: Middlesex return to Lord's on Thursday, aiming to complete a rare T20 double against local rivals Surrey, while Somerset are on the road again, facing Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday.

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