GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S hopes of qualifying from the South Group in the NatWest T20 Blast are hanging by a thread after they blew a great chance to beat Somerset.

They appeared to be cruising to their target of 176 to win at Taunton but lost by seven runs and are now four points behind fourth-placed Surrey, who have played a game less, with just three games remaining.

Alex Gidman scored 55 off 39 balls and added 89 for the first wicket with returning captain Michael Klinger (35) to get Gloucestershire’s chase off to a great start and they were in a healthy position of 133-2 with five overs to go before losing their way.

Gloucestershire required 19 to win off the last 12 balls with six wickets in hand but Dirk Nannes restricted them to five runs in the penultimate over and Alfonso Thomas took the wickets of Benny Howell (19) and Adam Rouse (0) at the death as they finished on 168-6.

Somerset’s total of 175-8 was aided by 30 runs coming off the last two overs.

Nick Compton top-scored with 46 and shared an opening stand of 69 with Craig Kieswetter (39), while Tom Smith (2-24) and Benny Howell (2-23) were the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers.