JIMMY Neesham’s explosive 53 ensured Essex Eagles started their Vitality Blast campaign with a three-wicket win over Somerset at Taunton.

Ben Green top-scored with 43 off 30 balls as the hosts posted 185 for seven after losing the toss.

In reply, the Eagles recovered from a poor start to reach their target with seven balls to spare.

Neesham hammered a half-century off 23 balls, with seven fours and two sixes.

And Essex head coach Anthony McGrath heaped praise on his performance which showed just why he was brought to the club.

"We brought in Jimmy Neesham because we felt it was an all-rounder role we were really missing, someone who can go in and finish innings from number five or six, which he has done countless times for New Zealand," said McGrath.

"He did it in our warm-up game and again tonight.

"After three overs it seemed Somerset might get 250, but credit Sam Cook and Jamie Porter for pulling things around.

"It shows what a crazy game T20 is that Jack Plom conceded 33 off an over and then hit the winning six to finish the game on a high."

The opening power play of the season at the Cooper Associates County Ground saw Somerset plunder 57 off the first three overs and only 11 from the next three.

Tom Banton and Hildreth set off at blistering pace, Banton smacking Aron Nijar for a six over mid-wicket in the opening over, which cost 14.

Jack Plom conceded 33 off the third over as Hildreth hit successive sixes over long-on. There were also four fours and two no-balls to the delight of Somerset members making up the 1,900 crowd.

But it was a different story after the two openers fell in the same Cook over, both caught off attempted pull shots, Banton’s 18 having been scored off seven balls.

Wickets fell steadily as, despite Eddie Byrom’s well-constructed 28, Somerset subsided to 144 for six after 17 overs.

It took Green’s three sixes and one from Marchant de Lange to provide a late boost.

Tom Westley and Adam Wheater fell cheaply to Jack Brooks and Josh Davey in the first 13 balls of the Essex reply.

Michael Pepper launched two powerful straight sixes before being caught behind off Davey for 18 and after six overs the Eagles were 51 for three.

That extended to 88 for three by the halfway stage, tall left-hander Walter looking increasingly assured as he pulled Roelof van der Merwe over mid-wicket for six.

Ryan ten Doeschate was dropped on 23, but added only three before edging Marchant de Lange through to wicketkeeper Banton.

Walter’s impressive contribution ended when he holed out to long-off to give Davey a third wicket, but Neesham responded with a six and a four off the next two balls.

The New Zealander then smashed three fours and a six off the 15th over, bowled by leg-spinner Max Waller, and by the time he became one of two de Lange victims in the 18th over momentum had swung decisively the Eagles’ way.

Plom ended proceedings with a six off Davey.