Tom Banton century inspires Somerset victory over Kent

Tom Banton
Tom Banton

Tom Banton scored a scintillating maiden Vitality T20 Blast hundred to propel Somerset to a comfortable 55-run victory over Kent and boost their quarter-final hopes.

Banton's memorable exhibition of clean-hitting illuminated a packed Cooper Associates County Ground, the 20-year-old opener scoring exactly 100 from 52 balls with nine fours and five sixes as Somerset posted an imposing 206 for eight in 20 overs after winning the toss.

Required to score at 10.85 an over, no Kent batsman managed to reach 50 as the visitors subsided to 151 all out in 18.4 overs, their reply undone by Craig Overton's incisive return of three for 32.

Somerset lost Pakistan batsman Babar Azam and veteran campaigner James Hildreth early on, but there was simply no stopping Banton, who went to his fourth half-century of the campaign from 27 balls.

He was afforded a life on 57 when Adam Milne fumbled a catch, much to the chagrin of South African paceman Hardus Viljoen.

Banton made good his escape, smiting Mohammad Nabi over long-on for six to register his best-ever T20 score, eclipsing the 71 he made against Surrey at the same venue eight days earlier.

He found a willing ally in Tom Abell, who hit the ground running and matched his young partner blow-for-blow in a whirlwind partnership of 102 in 8.5 overs for the third wicket.

Banton required a further 24 balls to go from 50 to three figures, reaching his maiden T20 hundred in the grand manner, hoisting Daniel Bell-Drummond over square leg for his fourth six.

The applause of an appreciative audience still ringing in his ears, Banton was out next ball - undone by Bell-Drummond who then pinned Eddie Byrom lbw later in the same over.

When Tom Lammonby was comprehensively bowled by Milne for two in the 18th over, Somerset were 179 for five and in danger of squandering a position of strength.

It was left to Abell to pick up the baton, Somerset's captain surpassing his previous highest score of 57 before driving Viljoen high to Zak Crawley at mid-off for 63. His high-octane innings spanned 33 balls and was adorned with six fours and two sixes.

Overton and Tim Groenewald came and went quickly thereafter, but not before Somerset had exceeded 200 for a third match in succession.

Crawley afforded Kent's reply early impetus, striking 35 from 24 balls in an opening stand of 50 in 5.2 overs with Bell-Drummond before driving Jerome Taylor to cover.

Somerset left-arm seamer Tom Lammonby struck a crucial blow, inducing danger-man Heino Kuhn to hit straight to long-off for 20 with the score on 89 in the 11th over.

Overton then took centre stage, claiming three wickets in five balls in accounting for Bell-Drummond, Sam Billings and Nabi and reducing the visitors to 101 for five in the 13th over.

Alex Blake and Viljoen succumbed to Max Waller's leg breaks, while Lammonby effected two run outs to send back Ollie Robinson and Fred Klaassen as the Spitfires folded.

Milne then fell to Taylor in the 19th over, signalling the end of the road for second-in-the-table Kent, who now lead Somerset by just two points.

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