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Lancashire seamer takes lead in Royal London One-Day Cup MVP despite not making the final.
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Somerset and Hampshire will meet in the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup with Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood going into the final match of the competition top of the PCA Most Valuable Player Rankings in the 50-over format.
Roelof van der Merwe bowled Somerset to a comfortable 115-run victory over Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge in the first semi-final to finish on Sunday.
The South African-born spinner took three wickets for just 29 runs – including the prize wickets of Ben Duckett and Samit Patel – at a miserly economy rate of just 3.22 runs per over.
Van der Merwe’s bowling figures, 11 runs with the bat and a catch all contributed to his player of the match performance, earning him 18.11 MVP Ranking points in the process.
In the other semi-final, a Gareth Berg-inspired Hampshire sneaked past Lancashire with an over to spare to win by four wickets.
Berg took a career best five for 26 from his 6.4 overs, including Lancashire’s final four wickets to fall. The all-rounder also struck a handy 18 not out to help guide Hampshire home alongside James Fuller in what was a tense finish. In all, Berg’s efforts meant he accrued 26.14 MVP points during his side’s victory.
Lancashire’s Mahmood took three for 46 from his 10 overs to reach the summit of the One-Day Cup MVP for the first time this season, edging ahead of Somerset’s Craig Overton by 0.86 MVP points. However, with Lancashire out of the tournament, it’s highly likely that the Somerset man will leapfrog the 22-year-old leader during the showpiece Lord’s final.
Mahmood and Overton are clear of the chasing pack, but Hampshire’s Liam Dawson and James Vince are also still in with a fighting chance of pinching top spot. The latter will need a particularly miraculous performance to make up the 28-point gap, something the defending champion’s captain is capable of after taking a haul of 45.74 points in the group game fixture against Gloucestershire.
The MVP formula was specifically designed to reward match-winning performances, giving a more accurate reflection of the top performers than traditional batting or bowling averages.
Hitting runs quickly or making a century in low-scoring encounter will gain a batsman extra points, as will taking top order wickets for bowlers. Points are also given for catches, run-outs and stumpings, and there are bonuses for captains and players who end up on the winning team.
Earlier in the week, Lancashire had moved past Middlesex to qualify for the semi-finals in what was a remarkable game at Lord’s.
Needing 305 to win, Middlesex were reduced to 21-5 in their chase before a stunning 197-run stand for the sixth wicket helped them to within 20 runs of victory.
Although his side fell agonisingly short in the end, Middlesex’s James Harris will always remember the game for the right reasons. His 117 off just 108 balls was his maiden professional ton, and beat his previous List A high of 32 by an incredible 85 runs. Indeed, the seam bowler had only scored just 300 runs in his 63 previous List A outings.
Harris accrued 27.31 MVP points and was the deserved player of the match, despite ending up on the losing team.
On the same day, Somerset comfortably beat Worcestershire by 147 runs on their own patch to take their place in the semis.
Tom Banton’s career best 112 off 103 balls was easily the standout performance – the next highest scorer in the game was his teammate James Hildreth with 38.
Although he didn’t claim any dismissals behind the stumps, Banton’s match-winning innings earned him 25.52 MVP points, propelling him into the overall top 25 for this year’s competition.
Somerset’s stunning late surge of form has taken them all the way to the final of this year’s One-Day Cup competition at Lord’s on Saturday 25 May.
With Overton, Dawson and Vince all still in the running, the competition for this year’s One-Day Cup MVP looks set to go right down to the wire.
View the MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.