Andrew Balbirnie made a career-best 99* - the highest score in T20 cricket for Glamorgan on home soil - as Glamorgan defeated Gloucestershire by 17 runs in their floodlit T20 contest in the Vitality Blast at Sophia Gardens. (writes Andrew Hignell)
The Welsh county made three changes to their line-up from the side which lost by 66 runs against Somerset at Cardiff on Wednesday evening, with Kiran Carlson, Graham Wagg and Dan Douthwaite replacing Owen Morgan, Marchant de Lange and Callum Taylor. Nick Selman and David Lloyd opened the batting as Graeme van Buuren and David Payne began the bowling, with Lloyd cover driving Payne to register the evening’s first boundary before his partner followed suit later in the over.
But Selman departed in the third over as he pulled Matt Taylor to deep mid-wicket. Having been joined by Andrew Balbirnie, Lloyd scythed the left-armer through the covers for another coruscating four before his new partner pulled Payne for six followed by a glance to the fine-leg boundary against Taylor. Lloyd also drilled him for four besides running a series of deftly-placed singles with the Irishman as the 50 came up at the end of the powerplays.
Lloyd then played a ramp stroke to fine-leg against Benny Howell before Balbirnie lofted Tom Smith to long-off for four, followed by his signature sweep to the square-leg ropes. But Lloyd’s forthright innings ended as he was bowled by Howell for 41 with the total on 78. Balbirnie was joined by Carlson who began with a delicate late cut for Smith against Smith. Balbirnie also swept Howell for four but with the total on 97 Carlson miscued Smith into the hands of short extra-cover.
Chris Cooke made his way to the middle before Balbirnie swept Taylor to fine-leg for six to reach his fifty from 31 balls before lofting Howell to deep fine-leg followed next ball by a rasping cover drive. He then made it three fours in a row as he fiercely square-cut Howell before next over drilling Higgins for successive fours through the covers followed by another six to deep backward square-leg. Cooke also drove Higgins over extra-cover for six before Balbirnie reverse-scooped the all-rounder for four.
Cooke also flayed Higgins over backward point for four before clubbing Payne through mid-on for four. Balbirnie drove Payne to long-off for four and past David Lloyd’s 97* at this ground against Kent in 2016. Cooke then was run out by Payne attempting a single in the penultimate over before Dan Douthwaite clubbed a pair of fours with Balbirnie then striking the last ball of the innings for a single to point to end unbeaten on 99 with Glamorgan ending on 188-4 and Gloucestershire not conceding an extra.
Hammons and Dent began the chase as Prem Sisodiya and Andrew Salter shared the bowling duties. Hammond struck the first four as he cover drove Salter before Dent pulled Sisodiya and Ruaidhri Smith for four. Dent also pulled Smith for six before straight-driving him for another four, with Hammond also clipping van der Gugten to fine-leg before the Dutchman ended his innings as he miscued to short third man.
42-1 saw Ian Cockbain join Dent who brought up the fifty by pulling Sisodiya for four before doing the same to Salter with the ball ricocheting off David Lloyd’s hands over the ropes as the all-rounder made a valiant effort to catch the ball. Cockbain then flayed Smith over point for four before surviving a chance at wide long-off as he drove Salter. Dent then lofted the off-spinner over cover for four before finding the ropes again to complete a 32-ball fifty as Gloucestershire reached 86-1 after ten overs.
Wagg then entered the attack and bowled Cockbain with his first delivery, with Dent later in the over also steering the left-armer through point. But next over Wagg caught Dent at long-on as he attempted to loft Sisodiya into the Cathedral Road Stand. James Bracey announced his arrival by sweeping the left-arm spinner for four as the task became 85 off 42 balls. Higgins responded by pulling van der Gugten for four with Bracey also drilling Smith over wide long-on for six before pulling him for four as the fielder on the ropes struggled to pick up the flight of the ball.
After Higgins had survived a run out appeal, Bracey then swatted van der Gugten for six as the task became 56 off 24 balls and then 49 from 18 as Wagg returned for his final salvo. He was scooped for four to fine-leg by Bracey, but he then miscued the next delivery and was caught at point as Jack Taylor made his way to the middle with his side needing 38 from the last two overs. Van der Gugten began with two dot balls before a wide and another dot ball. Higgins then swatted the next for four followed by a two but was then yorked by the Dutchman with the visitors needing 31 off the last over. They could only muster 13 and lost Jack Taylor who holed out at long-off as Glamorgan completed a home and away double over Gloucestershire.