T20: Morgan masterclass leads Middlesex past Somerset into last eight
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Eoin Morgan led from the front as Middlesex produced the biggest successful run-chase in Vitality Blast history to clinch a six-wicket victory over Somerset in an extraordinary game at Taunton.
The hosts posted a massive 226-5 on a hybrid pitch after winning the toss, with captain Tom Abell contributing a magnificent 101 not out, with 13 fours and 3 sixes.
Tom Banton smashed 62 off 39 balls and Eddie Byrom 44 from just 20 but a star-studded Middlesex batting line-up made light of their task, reaching 227-4 with an incredible three overs to spare.
Morgan smashed 83 not out off only 29 deliveries, after Dawid Malan blasted a rapid 41 off just 14 and AB de Villiers added a quickfire 32.
There was little sign of the carnage ahead when Somerset lost Babar Azam for a first ball duck to the fourth delivery of the match from Toby Roland-Jones.
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But by the time James Hildreth was run out for 18 in the sixth over, Banton was in full cry and Somerset ended the six-over power-play on 51-2.
Middlesex paid for giving Abell and Banton lives as Nathan Sowter fumbled the ball at the bowlers' end with Abell well out of his ground in the eighth over, while Tom Helm dropped a skyer from Banton off Steve Finn with the batsman's total on 49.
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Banton fell to Mohammad Hafeez in the 12th over, having hit seven fours and three sixes. The previous one from Finn had seen Abell accelerate with 4,6,4,4 as he swept moved towards his best T20 score.
Byrom hit four sixes in his brilliant cameo and when Abell reached his ton off the penultimate ball of the innings a packed crowd at the Cooper Associates County Ground rose to acclaim one of the finest T20 hundreds they could ever hope to see.
Soon Malan was showing his liking for the hybrid pitch, taking three fours and a six off the second over bowled by Jerome Taylor. It cost 21 and when Stirling and Malan plundered 23 off the next over from Tom Lammonby, Middlesex had raced to 54 at only the halfway point of the powerplay.
Malan tried one big shot too many to be caught at long-on off Tim Groenewald. But by then the visitors were 67-1 off 3.5 overs and although Stirling fell to the next ball for 25, de Villiers and the rest of the Middlesex batsmen had a great start to build on.
The South African walked out to strike his first two balls, from Roelof van der Merwe, for four and six as the run feast continued. By the end of the power-play, the scoreboard read 94-2, a Middlesex record, de Villiers narrowly avoiding being run out by Lammonby off the last ball.
Hafeez cleverly run out by van der Merwe, backing up as de Villiers drove straight back to the bowler. And a bigger moment seemed to come in the 11th over when Max Waller held a stunning one-handed catch at full-stretch at deep mid-wicket off Lammonby to send back de Villiers.
But now Morgan took up the cudgels, striking three consecutive sixes off Lammonby, the second when Babar stood on the rope taking a catch. It left his team needing 63 from seven overs.
Morgan made sure it was over a lot quicker than that, striking the ball superbly to clear the ropes eight times in his memorable knock.
Turning point: Three sixes off consecutive balls by Eoin Morgan off Tom Lammonby in the 13th over of the Middlesex reply, which cost 24 runs, and made up for the loss of AB de Villiers.
Shot of the day: Tom Banton's six over deep backward square off Tom Helm in the fourth over of Somerset's innings. A short back-lift and immensely strong bottom hand made it look effortless.
Unsung hero: Toby Roland-Jones took 2-32 from his four overs on a night to forget for every other bowler on both sides in a match that produced 24 sixes and 45 fours.