SUNDERLAND went down to their fifth Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division defeat of the summer on Saturday, and there was just one man to blame as Benwill Hill’s Pakistani professional, Zohaib Khan, turned in a superb display.
Usman Arshad and James Davies (2-46) struck some early blows that promised much for the home team, Hill looking on the point of collapse when sliding to 47-5. But Khan found support in the shape of skipper Phil Nicholson (22) and he gradually gained momentum on his way to 111, scored from 164 balls, a show of defiance that included 10 fours and three sixes.
That took the visitors to the unthought of heights of 219 despite Arshad (4-42 from 19 overs) excelling. Ian Stephenson plundered 3-61.
But that total looked gettable when Chris Peareth (48 from 54 balls) and Imran Shah (58 from 74 balls) were putting on 111 for the first Sunderland wicket, that is until that man Khan intervened again.
After dismissing Peareth, he went on to claim 6-47 in 15 match-winning overs, Sunderland losing 10 wickets for 67 runs as they imploded to 178 all out. Michael Nunn (23) was the only other home batsman to reach double figures. Matthew Muchall grabbed 2-62.
Whitburn found Durham Academy in feisty mood and had to be content with a home draw – for the youngsters it was their tenth stalemate in 13 matches.
Adam Hickey (75 from 99 balls) and James Thompson (74 not out from 117 balls) were the star men for Durham, their 94-run third-wicket partnership confirming their team’s early domination and setting up a 60-over declaration on 277-4.
Openers Reece Carr (30) and Jack Clark (39) made an impact, with Asher Hart adding an unbeaten 32. But Whitburn then looked capable of mounting an assault on that formidable target as Stuart Walker (42) and Neil Ayre (73 from 88 balls) put on 123 in a splendid opening partnership.
However, Hart (4-45) and Ben Whitehead (3-66 from 20 overs) managed to apply sufficient pressure on the brakes to peg the home team back to 219-8. Paul Coughlin made 31 and Andrew Turns 27.
Hetton Lyons recovered from last week’s defeat to re-ignite their title hopes with a four-wicket win at Tynemouth on Saturday.
The hosts struggled through 57 overs before losing their last wicket with 160 on the board, Marcus Turner their top scorer with three fours and two sixes in a 68-ball 41.
Lal Kumar sent down 16 accurate overs to claim 3-35, and with Martin Pollard also picking up three wickets the Lyons looked in good shape at the interval.
Despite slow progress, they made it home after 52 overs, with Jarvis Clay (41) and Sean Tindale (39) the key men.
Chester-le-Street tried their hardest to throw a spanner into South North’s championship works, but, after being in several promising positions throughout the tightlcontest, they ended up losing by 17 runs.
Just last week, the Cestrians had defeated Lyons to hand table-topping South North a bonus, and when they reduced their hosts to 48-4 in the opening exchanges there was genuine belief they were about to make it a notable double over the top two.
But a partnership of 132 between the defiant Jonny Craigs (58 from 134 balls) and the more adventurous Stephen Humble changed the course of the game.
Humble went on to hit 13 fours and three sixes on his way to 92, scored from 111 balls, before Calum Thorp (4-43) and Quentin Hughes (4-24) mopped up, with the home team reaching 218 in 62.1 overs.
Chester made careful progress to a threatening 174-4 before Jonny Wightman claimed the key wicket of Andrew Smith (86) to herald a collapse, the last six wickets going down for just 27, Wightman ending with 6-37 after a match-defining burst.