Glos take game to final over but fall to two-wicket defeat against Glamorgan

26 May 2023

Timm van der Gugten and Ruaidhri Smith held their nerve to usher Glamorgan to a tense two-wicket win over Severnside rivals Gloucestershire in a thrilling Vitality Blast encounter at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.

Set 162 to win their first outings of the South Group campaign, the visitors appeared to be cruising when Colin Ingram and Kiran Carlson staged a third-wicket stand of 69. But Gloucestershire refused to give in, veteran left arm seamer David Payne bowled superbly well to claim 3-17 and the game was on a knife-edge with the visitors requiring 15 from 12 balls at the death.

Netherlands international van der Gugten helped himself to two sixes in smashing 21 from 12 balls and Smith weighed in with a maximum of his own as Glamorgan chased down their target with five balls to spare.

Handed his Blast debut, Ben Charlesworth had earlier top-scored with 56 and shared in stands of 52 and 48 with Ollie Price and Graeme van Buuren for the fifth and sixth wickets respectively as Gloucestershire recovered from 18-3 to post 161-9. Dan Douthwaite claimed 4-23, including three wickets in four balls in the 19th over, but Jamie McIllroy was the pick of the Glamorgan bowlers, making a mess of Gloucestershire's top order to finish with 3-30.

Beaten for the second time in three days, Gloucestershire were again left to reflect on a below-par batting performance, their top-order in particular failing to fire.

Put into bat, they made the worst possible start, losing three wickets in the space of eight balls with the score on 18. Chris Dent took two boundaries off McIllroy before skying a catch to mid-on and falling for 11, while overseas recruit Grant Roelofsen swung at a ball outside off stump and was caught behind for seven off the bowling of Timm van der Gugten. Dismissed for 113 by Kent only 48 hours earlier, the home side's confidence was dealt a further blow when Miles Hammond was pinned lbw without scoring by the excellent McIllroy.

Ollie Price twice drove van der Gugten down the ground for four and Jack Taylor utilised a short leg-side boundary to hoist the Dutchman over cow corner for the first six of the innings to afford the home side impetus in the fifth over. But a return of 46-3 from the powerplay was below par and Gloucestershire further subsided in the seventh over, Taylor finding himself cramped for space by Douthwaite, top-edging a pull to point and departing the scene for 16.

Their inexperience notwithstanding, Price and T20 debutant Charlesworth did their utmost to rebuild from the wreckage of 49-4, Gloucestershire's fifth wicket pair scoring at better than a run-a-ball during the middle overs to raise a half century stand from 34 deliveries. Both stepped down the pitch to slow left armer Prem Sisodiya, whose first three overs cost 31 runs, as the hosts finally threatened to break free of Welsh shackles.

McIllroy returned to bowl the 14th over and restore Glamorgan control, inducing Price to chip to short cover, the 21-year-old having contributed a valuable 37 runs in a stand of 52 with Charlesworth, who was then joined by van Buuren with the score on 101-5.

Charlesworth may have been navigating hitherto uncharted waters, but he rose to the challenge in forthright fashion, pouncing on anything short or wide to plunder a series of boundaries and bring the Bristol crowd to life. He received a life on 45, dropped at deep point by Ingram off the bowling of van der Gugten, and went on to bring up his maiden Blast 50 in the next over, carving McIllroy through the covers for his sixth four.

But his progress was abruptly halted by Douthwaite, who also removed Zafar Gohar and Matt Taylor in claiming three wickets in four balls in the penultimate over to ensure the Gloucestershire tail did not wag.

Having missed the entirety of last season's Blast campaign through injury and making his first appearance in the short format since 2021, van Buuren offered Charlesworth staunch support in a sixth-wicket alliance of 48 in five overs before opening his shoulders at the death to finish unbeaten on 32 from 19 balls.

Gloucestershire needed to take early wickets and Matt Taylor and David Payne combined to remove openers Eddie Byrom and Sam Northeast inside two overs, the former held in the deep and the other caught at backward point as Glamorgan slipped to 17-2.

But Carlson and Ingram moved quickly to redress the balance thereafter, the third wicket pair advancing the score to 61-2 before the fielding restrictions were lifted. They went after Gloucestershire's spinners in particular, taking the aerial route and striking the ball cleanly to put pressure on Price and Tom Smith. When Zafar was introduced from the Bristol Pavilion End to bowl the eighth over, the result was just the same, as the flow of boundaries continued unabated.

Desperate to break the partnership, Gloucestershire skipper Jack Taylor recalled Payne, and the veteran left arm seamer had Carlson caught at backward point for 35. But Glamorgan's captain had at least ensured that those who followed him could afford the luxury of scoring at little more than a run a ball.

Accordingly, Ingram and new partner Cooke adopted a relatively low risk strategy in easing Glamorgan towards their target, punishing the bad ball when it came along at the same time as rotating the strike and running quick singles to exert  pressure on the fielders. 

Having raised 25 via 18 balls, Chris Cooke offered a sharp return catch to Price with the score on 121 in the 14th over. Payne then bowled Ben Kellaway for three in the next over and, when Ingram top-edged Price to short fine leg and went for a 33-ball 47, Glamorgan were 129-6 and the outcome in doubt. 

Needing to score 30 from the last four overs, Glamorgan suffered a further setback, Douthwaite falling to the returning Matt Taylor in the 17th over as Gloucestershire, cheered on by a raucous audience, scented blood.

Big-hitting van der Gugten then hoisted Smith over the square leg boundary to bring the asking rate down to 15 off 12 balls, only for Zafar to bowl Sisodiya. Ruaidhri Smith swung Zafar over the backward square boundary to leave the Welsh county needing six off the final over and van der Gugten won the game with one mighty hit over mid-wicket the the expense of Smith.

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