But on a slightly two-paced pitch, Somerset’s batsmen failed to capitalise on starts, lost regular wickets and left themselves too much to do at the end against the impressive Yasir Arafat, who took 4 for 37 from his four overs.
Now out of the tournament, Somerset selected a slightly refreshed, young-looking XI, with older players like Marcus Trescothick, Alfonso Thomas, Abdur Rehman, Luke Ronchi and Tim Groenewald all missing. It is the start of a new approach that Somerset will use for the upcoming Royal London One-Day Cup, where only Groenewald of those five players is planned to feature. The cider county gave a debut to Adam Hose, signed on a 14-month contract after impressing for the 2nd XI, and selected Craig Overton for his first t20 appearance of the season.
Jim Allenby, who will also captain Somerset in the Royal London One-Day Cup, lost the toss and was asked to field first.
Somerset’s bowling attack has conceded recent scores of 208 for 1, 173 for 6 and 178 for 2, with early wickets being a problem. At first, this Hampshire innings looked like going the same way. Jamie Overton found some swing in a tight first over, but Hampshire opener Michael Carberry released the shackles with a sequence of four-six-four off Craig Overton.
James Vince was more circumspect at the other end, and it was Carberry who did most of the work in the powerplay. He smashed an Allenby full toss for six over midwicket, and struck fours off Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton to finish the powerplay on 34.
He then proceeded to hit a six and a four off Peter Trego’s second over of the tournament, but Waller pulled it back by conceding six from his first over.
Somerset then finally took their first wicket, with James Vince run out for 24 by some great athleticism from Jamie Overton (off his own bowling) after calling a suicidal single.
New batsman Adam Wheater didn’t last long, reverse sweeping his first ball to a diving Trego at short third man off Waller.
Somerset were beginning to turn the screw, and tight overs from Allenby and Johann Myburgh – four and three runs respectively – were followed by the wicket of Carberry, who mistimed a Craig Overton full toss straight to Tom Cooper at long-off for 57 (41 balls, 5×4, 3×6).
Somerset continued to take regular wickets – Owais Shah (9) misread Waller’s length and was bowled, then Will Smith (4) perished in similar fashion, walking past a straight one which clipped middle stump. Waller finished with impressive figures of 4-0-17-3, adding to his reputation as one of Somerset’s most useful t20 bowlers.
The wickets didn’t stop there. Joe Gatting (11) was run out by a superb Allenby direct hit after a mix-up, then Chris Wood, who had lofted his second ball down the ground for six, was bowled by a Gregory quicker ball for 8.
Gareth Berg and Arafat added a few runs at the end, but Hampshire’s total of 143 for 7 seemed distinctly below par. Waller was backed up well by Jamie Overton (4-0-27-0) and Lewis Gregory (4-0-30-1).
There was an injury worry for Somerset; Johann Myburgh had fallen awkwardly trying to take a catch off the last ball of the innings.
Hose, lacking a squad number, opened the batting for Somerset against his home county alongside Allenby. The pair made a watchful start, before Hose struck successive fours off Berg – a drive through extra cover, then a skewed pull. He hit two more fours off Wood, before Allenby got in on the act with a four and a straight six off Arafat.
But just as Somerset were gaining momentum, Arafat made the breakthrough, inducing a leading edge from Allenby straight to Danny Briggs for 15. The former Somerset man foxed Hose too, who mistimed a slower ball to a leaping Vince at mid-off for 20.
Trego slog-swept t20 debutant Mason Crane for six, but his stay was brief, falling after top-edging a sweep to Arafat at short fine leg off Smith.
James Hildreth joined Cooper at the crease, and the pair steadied the ship for a few overs. Cooper began to open up successive swept fours off Smith, but the bowler got his revenge next ball when the batsman tried another sweep but could only drag on to his stumps for 27.
Gregory was unable to get going quickly enough, and with the required run rate rising rapidly Hildreth came down the track and missed a Briggs full toss to fall for a run-a-ball 19.
With 37 needed from three overs, with two to be bowled by Arafat, Somerset were well behind the eight-ball by now. Gregory moved to the off side to be bowled by Arafat for 16, then Jamie Overton missed a scoop first ball to see his stumps ruined too.
Craig Overton, who had hit a six off Wood to give the Cidermen a glimmer of hope, became the eighth player of the night to be bowled in the final over by Arafat. Myburgh, who had come in later than usual with Hildreth as a runner owing to his injury, hit a six off the penultimate ball but it was too little, too late for Somerset who lost by 6 runs.
However, captain Allenby took the positives from the defeat, saying, “I’m really pleased with a lot of the game. At times we showed some high class and high skill but we didn’t come away with the win. It’s a game we should have won after restricting Hampshire to that score on that pitch and we made too many of the same mistakes that we have made all year.
“Adam Hose did well on debut. I only met him yesterday so it was quite odd opening the batting with someone I had just met. He seems a good character, tries to give it a whack and wasn’t overawed. It was a good opportunity to try out some new players. Having a poor season gave us a chance to have a look at a few.”
This was Hampshire’s final t20 of the season, and their victory all but sends them through to the quarter-finals. Somerset’s last t20 is at home to Middlesex today, weather permitting, which Allenby said is intended to be a “full rehearsal” for Sunday’s opening Royal London Cup match against Derbyshire. That means that Tom Abell and Jack Leach, who shared 12th man duties last night, should come into the side.