Neesham blasts Essex to Vitality T20 victory at Somerset
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Jimmy Neesham's explosive 53 ensured Essex Eagles started their Vitality Blast campaign with a three-wicket win over Somerset at Taunton.
Ben Green top-scored with 43 off 30 balls as the hosts posted 185 for seven after losing the toss.
The experienced James Hildreth, in a new role as opener, hammered 39 off just 18 deliveries, while Sam Cook took three for 14 from three overs.
In reply, the Eagles recovered from a poor start to reach their target with seven balls to spare, Neesham hammering a half-century off 23 balls, with seven fours and two sixes.
The opening powerplay of the season at the Cooper Associates County Ground saw Somerset plunder 57 off the first three overs and only 11 from the next three.
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Tom Banton and Hildreth set off at blistering pace, the former smacking Aron Nijjar for six over midwicket in the opening over, which cost 14.
Jack Plom conceded 33 off the third over as Hildreth hit successive sixes over long-on. There were also four fours and two no-balls to the delight of Somerset members making up the 1,900 crowd.
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But it was a different story after the two openers fell in the same Cook over, both caught off attempted pull shots, Banton's 18 having been scored off eight balls.
Wickets fell steadily as, despite Eddie Byrom's well-constructed 28, Somerset subsided to 144 for six after 17 overs.
It took Green's three sixes and one from Marchant De Lange to provide a late boost.
Tom Westley and Adam Wheater fell cheaply to Jack Brooks and Josh Davey in the first 13 balls of the Essex reply.
Michael Pepper launched two powerful straight sixes before being caught behind off Davey for 18 and after six overs the Eagles were 51 for three.
That extended to 88 for three by the halfway stage, tall left-hander Paul Walter looking increasingly assured as he pulled Roelof Van Der Merwe over midwicket for six.
Ryan Ten Doeschate was dropped on 23, but added only three before edging De Lange through to wicketkeeper Banton.
Walter's impressive contribution ended when he holed out to long-off to give Davey a third wicket, but Neesham responded with a six and a four off the next two balls.
The New Zealander then smashed three fours and a six off the 15th over, bowled by leg-spinner Max Waller, and by the time he became one of two De Lange victims in the 18th over momentum had swung decisively the Eagles' way.
Plom ended proceedings with a six off Davey.