Career-best performances from Mark Stoneman and Usman Arshad helped Durham Jets stay in contention for T20 Blast qualification with a 38-run win over Leicestershire Foxes.
The captain carried his bat for 89 not out, the second-highest score for a Durham batsman in T20 cricket, as he and Arshad (28) combined for an unbroken 75-run partnership in a score of 163-5 last night.
It always feels a little bit more special when you perform well and you’re winningMARK STONEMAN
Wickets fell at regular intervals ensured the Foxes were always chasing their tails and when Tom Wells’ enterprising 27 was ended by a stunning Ryan Pringle catch, the game was effectively over.
Arshad returned his best bowling figures of 3-18 as he and John Hastings (3-10) took two wickets in as many balls at either end of the innings.
Having scored two half-centuries in losing causes this season, Stoneman was delighted to contribute in a winning cause.
“It always feels a little bit more special when you perform well and you’re winning,” he said.
“Things are going on quite nicely. It’s always nice when he get into a period like this – the key is to stretch it out for as long as possible.”
And he also reserved special praise for his bowlers for keeping the Foxes under pressure from the off.
“From a bowling point of view, John and Usman have been the stand outs,” he said.
“They have a tough job coming up front and finishing off at the end and they’ve excelled in the way they’ve bowled in the back end of the innings.”
Stoneman and Phil Mustard racked up 45-0 in four overs after being invited bat but once the latter departed, the Jets stuttered in familiar fashion.
Calum MacLeod looked agitated at the crease, trying many a manoeuvre to find the boundary, but was eventually stumped attempting a sweep against Jigar Naik. His form remains a concern.
Paul Collingwood played onto his stumps while Gordon Muchall and Ryan Pringle departed in identical circumstances, tamely chipping Rob Sayer into Naik’s hands at short mid-wicket, as Stoneman’s knock looked an isolated one.
But when Arshad offered assistance, the opener freed his arms as ex-Durham man Ben Raine felt the wrath – his figures of 0-54 are the most expensive for a bowler against the Jets in this format.
The opener did survive three dropped chances, two of them in the 19th over, before taking 14 from Raine’s final over to end the innings on a high.Durham continued the momentum through to their bowling performance as regular wickets stifled the visitors’ chase, including the prized wicket of Kevin O’Brien first ball.
Andrea Agathangelou’s early innovation was cut short when Arshad re-arranged his stumps before O’Brien followed, bottom-edging a pull to Muchall in close. The hat-trick ball resulted in a failed lbw shout.
The steady medium pace of Keaton Jennings accounted for Ned Eckersley while Raine was run out as the Foxes’ chase failed to gather any momentum.
Wells produced a match-winning knock in this fixture last season and briefly threatened to repeat those heroics, launching sixes to give his side feint hope.
But those around him failed to give any support. Scott Borthwick dismissed New Zealand international Grant Elliot and Niall O’Brian before youngster Wells fell to the returning Arshad, caught brilliantly by Pringle on the boundary rope.
Hastings returned to mop up the tail.
But the innings of the night belonged to Brendan McCullum, the Kiwi hitting an incredible 158 for Birmingham Bears in their win over Derbyshire at Edgbaston.