BEN Stokes boosted Durham’s Friend’s Life t20 hopes with 46 from 24 balls as they recovered from a poor start to beat Derbyshire by four wickets with eight balls to spare at Chesterfield.
The Dynamos looked to be heading for defeat at 36 for four in the eighth over chasing the Falcons’ 136 for seven, but Stokes smashed five sixes and carried his side to the brink of victory with Gordon Muchall, who scored 37 from 27 balls, in a stand of 77 in eight overs.
Although both fell to Wes Durston in the 16th over, it was too late for a Derbyshire side who have now lost their last four matches in the North Division.
Derbyshire also recovered from a shaky start with Durston needlessly run out in the first over followed by Dan Redfern, who chopped Will Smith into his stumps in the fifth.
Skipper Wayne Madsen straight-drove Gareth Breese for six in an over which cost 11 and Chesney Hughes dispatched Scott Borthwick over wide long on for his second six as the Falcons reached 66 for 2 after 10 overs.
But Hughes was bowled swinging wildly at Chris Rushworth in the next over, and although Albie Morkel lifted the crowd by twice pulling Ryan Pringle for six, the off-spinner responded well by striking twice in the 15th over.
Morkel’s attempts at another big hit ended in a skied catch to cover and Madsen was bowled for 32 trying to pull to leave Derbyshire on 100 for five after 15 overs.
Tom Poynton drilled Pringle for a straight six but Derbyshire could not break free in the closing overs, although Durham’s target looked much steeper when they lost four wickets cheaply.
Mark Stoneman was lbw sweeping at Peter Burgoyne for two, and although Phil Mustard pulled Morkel for successive fours, he was bowled for 18 trying to drive the next ball.
Durham’s batsmen were struggling to get the ball away on a slow, turning pitch and after Borthwick was stumped off a wide ball from Tom Knight, Smith was lbw to Redfern to leave the Dynamos spinning.
It needed something special to get Durham back in the contest and Stokes delivered by twice pulling Burgoyne for six, carving Mark Turner over the deep cover boundary and heaving Tim Groenewald high over midwicket for another maximum.
Muchall drove Turner for six over long on, and although Stokes holed out after driving Durston for his fifth six and Muchall also fell going for another big hit two balls later, Gareth Breese and Michael Richardson steered Durham to a victory that takes them above Derbyshire in the table.
Durham play host to Derbyshire in their final T20 group match next Sunday, but before that they host Leicestershire on Thursday evening.