Somerset pulled off an impressive three-wicket victory over joint leaders Essex after two days of high octane cricket at Taunton, a result that sees them climb into second place in the table, writes Richard Walsh.

Essex started the day on six without loss leading by 34 runs but Josh Davey gave the Cidermen a dream start when he had Dean Elgar caught by ‘keeper James Rew with the score on 11.

Next over, vice-captain Craig Overton accounted for Sam Cook before Davey struck again, this time removing Tom Westley with the total on 37. Nick Browne took his score onto 23 when he was caught by Tom Lammonby off Lewis Gregory.

Matt Critchley was then joined by Jordan Cox and the pair saw up the 100 but after taking his own score on to 21, Davey had him caught by Rew.

With Essex on 106 for five, the Somerset bowlers produced their best of the day as the visitors lost their remaining wickets for the addition of 32 runs and were all out for 138 in 51.3 overs.

Davey ended with three for 20 from his 11 overs, while Gregory took three for 23 from 9.3 and there were two each for Ball ad Overton.

Chasing a total of 157 for victory, Matt Renshaw and Sean Dickson got the hosts off to the best possible start and added 75 before Renshaw trapped was leg before to Cook for 35 in the 16th over.

Dickson looked to be settled and next over drove Porter to the wide cover boundary but next ball played an expansive shot and was caught by ‘keeper Harry Duke for 42.

With the total on 83 for two, Somerset had two new batters in the middle, Tom Lammonby and Andy Umeed. 

The pair steadied the situation and then Umeed stepped up and hit three fours before, with the score on 99, Lammonby was out leg before to Shane Snater.

Somerset needed 68 runs with seven wickets remaining, as Tom Banton strode out to join Umeed, who in the next over drove Porter to the boundary to see up the 100.

Umeed hit several more lusty blows but with 47 still needed he was caught at second slip off Snater for 34.

A classic straight drive to the boundary by Banton off Porter followed by a square drive to cut the rope reduced the target but next over a loose shot by Pretorius saw him caught, making Somerset 135 for five- still 32 needed.

The hosts weren’t making it easy for themselves nor for the good-sized crowd of 1300 people, who were on the edge of their seats willing their heroes to victory.

As the target reduced, the tension mounted and with 15 needed James Rew was bowled by Snater for six.

Banton was joined by Gregory and it was Banton who drove Snater down the ground to reduce the target to single figures. 

With four needed and as the match went into the extra half hour, Banton was out caught by Critchley off Snater for a patient 29 off 50 balls.

Overton walked out and hit his first ball into the air and it landed just over mid off’s head.  Three needed, Gregory scampered two off the next ball to tie the scores.

The first ball of the next over, Overton made no mistake as he swung Ported to the mid wicket boundary to see his side to 170 for seven and victory by three wickets, from which they take 19 points. 

Somerset skipper Lewis Gregory said: “The plan at the start of the season was to get ourselves in a position to challenge strongly for the Championship title going into the final five games.

“This win puts us in a great spot, but there is such a long way to go and only by working hard and continually trying to improve can we hope to achieve our aim.

“So far, we have been really good in patches and we have let ourselves down at times. If we can iron out a few things, we will remain very competitive.

“All credit to Matt Renshaw and Sean Dickson today. We knew getting 167 wouldn’t be easy on that pitch, but they made significant inroads into the target and, while there were some nervy moments, enough of our lads batted well to see us home.”