Timm Van Der Gugten and Ruaidhri Smith steer Glamorgan to victory at Gloucestershire
Timm Van Der Gugten and Ruaidhri Smith held their nerve to usher Glamorgan to a tense two-wicket win over Gloucestershire in a thrilling Vitality Blast encounter in Bristol.
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 to claim three for 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 for three to post 161 for nine.
Dan Douthwaite claimed four for 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 three for 30.
Put into bat, the hosts made the worst possible start, losing three wickets in the space of eight balls.
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 Van der Gugten.
Gloucestershire’s confidence was dealt a further blow when Miles Hammond was pinned lbw without scoring by McIllroy.
Price twice drove Van der Gugten down the ground for four but a return of 46 for three from the powerplay was below par and they further subsided in the seventh over, Taylor finding himself cramped for space by Douthwaite, top-edging a pull to point and departing for 16.
Price and Charlesworth did their utmost to rebuild, with the 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 as the hosts finally threatened to break free of Welsh shackles.
McIllroy returned to bowl the 14th over, inducing Price to chip to short cover, the 21-year-old having contributed a valuable 37 runs in a stand of 52 with Charlesworth.
Charlesworth 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.
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 Taylor and 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.
But Carlson and Ingram moved quickly to redress the balance thereafter, the third wicket pair advancing the score to 61 for two before the fielding restrictions were lifted.
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 captain Carlson 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 Chris 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, Cooke offered a sharp return catch to Price. Payne then bowled Ben Kellaway cheaply in the next over and, when Ingram (33) top-edged Price to short fine leg, Glamorgan were 129 for six and the outcome in doubt.
Needing to score 30 from the last four overs, the visitors suffered a further setback, Douthwaite falling to the returning Matt Taylor in the 17th over as Gloucestershire scented blood.
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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