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Cricket: Ant is a giant in thrilling win; TRIUMPH: Stand-in skipper leads Bears into quarter-finals.

ANT Botha played a true captain's role as Warwickshire booked their place in the Twenty20 quarter-finals courtesy of a sixth straight win - a thrilling four-wicket triumph over Somerset.

Chasing 173, their biggest target so far in this season's competition, they squeezed home with two balls to spare when Michael Powell drove Alfonso Thomas straight for four.

Jim Troughton (57 from 30 balls) and Jonathan Trott (48 from 37) had laid the foundation for the chase but Botha also had a significant impact, just as he had earlier with the ball. The all rounder, stepping up to skipper the side with Darren Maddy and Ian Westwood both injured, bowled a mean spell of 4-0-20-1. His figures this Twenty20 now stand at a remarkable 25-0-132-12.

Then he reached the crease with Warwickshire's target stretching them in fast-fading light.

Seventeen from the last 12 balls was far from straightforward but Botha's straight six off Ian Blackwell from the last ball of the penultimate over put the Bears in charge. He ended with 21 from 15 balls and Warwickshire head into their last two group games sure of qualification and knowing one more win would guarantee a home quarter-final.

Somerset's innings comprised two excellent partnerships, one each side of a horrible collapse.

Justin Langer and Marcus Trescothick thumped 68 in six overs before Tim Groenewald dismissed both in three balls. Langer missed a big swipe, Trescothick chipped to mid-on and Somerset went on to lose five wickets in 31 balls.

Groenewald knocked Ian Blackwell's middle-stump, Botha inveigled Peter Trego into lifting a catch to extra cover and Ian Salisbury trapped Zander de Bruyn lbw and had Craig Kieswetter caught at long on.

Somerset's wheels had come off but Arul Suppiah and Omari Banks got them back on and speeding in a stand of 66 from 50 balls.

Both hit 32 from 24 balls with Suppiah smiting one Groenewald delivery out of the ground. In reply, Neil Carter perished first ball but Troughton and Trott blasted 89 in 50 balls for the second wicket.

Troughton hit three sixes and six fours in, surprisingly, only his second Twenty20 half-century.

As wickets tumbled under the pressure of a tall target, it came down to 29 from the last three overs. Botha and Luke Parker took 12 off the first, then Powell joined the captain to nervelessly finish the job. Somerset gave their all - but it wasn't enough.

CAPTION(S):

ON THE RUN... Warwickshire's Michael Powell plays a shot against the Somerset Sabres at Edgbaston yesterday.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 25, 2008
Words:418
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