Tom Kohler-Cadmore led the way with 72 as Somerset made it two wins from two in the Vitality Blast, chasing down a target of 184 to beat Sussex Sharks by five wickets with three balls to spare at the 1st Central County Ground.
The game had been held up for nearly ten minutes in the seventh over of the Somerset reply when Nathan McAndrew and debutant Shadab Khan collided on the Hove outfield going for a high catch. Both players spent several minutes on the ground receiving treatment from Sussex’s medical staff before being helped to their feet. McAndrew was able to bowl his four overs after passing a concussion protocol but Khan, the Pakistan leg-spinner who was making his Sussex debut, had to leave the field.
It left Sussex skipper Ravi Bopara, who had earlier scored an unbeaten 88, without one of his key bowlers and with Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s 2.3 overs costing 51 runs Bopara was left with little room for manoeuvre, especially when the outstanding Kohler-Cadmore started to move through the gears.
Somerset’s new signing shared a match-winning stand of 104 off 63 balls with Tom Abell hitting five sixes and five fours from 42 deliveries. and when he was caught off Tymal Mills trying to guide the ball over third, the target was down to 22 from four overs.
Abell was run out off the final ball of the penultimate over for 42 with both he and Lewis Gregory stranded at the same end, but Gregory and Ben Green sealed the deal for Somerset.
Until he lost one of his key bowlers, Bopara must have thought his unbeaten 88 would have been the difference. The 38-year-old had warmed up for the Blast by scoring 144 from 49 balls in a second team match against Middlesex on Tuesday.
In his 440th game in the format, Bopara came in after Sussex had lost Tom Clark and Tom Alsop in Craig Overton’s first two overs and he barely played a false shot until the last over when Abell dropped a difficult diving catch at mid-wicket.
Bopara hit seven sixes and three fours with principal support coming from Ali Orr who scored 33 including three successive boundaries off Matt Henry before he was superbly caught one-handed in his follow through by Gregory.
Michael Burgess helped Bopara add 57 in 42 balls for the fifth wicket but the total swelled when Henry was taken for 16 off the last four deliveries of the innings as Bopara swung him over mid-wicket for six off a no ball and guided the free hit to the backward point boundary.
Despite losing Will Smeed in the second over, Somerset had 50 on the board after four thanks to Tom Banton’s assault on Hudson-Prentice whose over went for 29, including successive sixes.
Banton was well caught by the diving Orr trying to help a bumper from Mills over long leg but after the delay, with a second Hudson-Prentice over costing 16 as Kohler-Cadmore hit him for successive sixes, Somerset always had the chase under control.
After helping his side to victory, Tom Kohler-Cadmore said: “The lads were awesome in the first half of the game. I thought Roelof van der Merwe bowled unbelievably and made the difference for us. We made it a tad tight at the end and the other lads said it was tough to win here but it’s two wins from two and that gives us some momentum.
“I’d like to have been there at the end. When I score some runs I like to be the one who wins it for the team. It was my night tonight but I’m sure other lads will stand up in other games.
“I thought at every key moment we were able to put the pressure back on them and get key boundaries when we needed, so we were always up with the rate or ahead of it.”