Solid Gordon Muchall steers Durham home

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DURHAM ace Gordon Muchall continued his excellent CB Pro40 form to help his side to a seven-wicket victory over Hampshire Royals yesterday.

But the batsman was keen to share the plaudits with his team-mates after passing the half-century for the third time in four one-day games.

“There were a lot of positives to take from the performance,” he said.

“The bowlers bowled really well. Graeme Onions and Chris Rushworth set the standard early on and then Mitch (Claydon) came on and gave them absolutely nothing. The skipper (Dale Benkenstein) bowled himself through and Stokesy (Ben Stokes) came on and picked up a few wickets at the end.”

French-born Benny Howell was the only Hampshire batsman to offer any real resistance, making 66 and sharing a fifth-wicket stand of 68 with Liam Dawson (38) before falling to Rushworth.

Stokes weighed in with 4-29, while Claydon returned figures off 3-16 – claiming the wickets of Neil McKenzie and Sean Ervine early on – as Durham restricted the visitors to just 161 all out.

In reply, the hosts suffered a wobble, losing three early wickets.

Dimitri Mascarenhas, making his comeback after almost a year out with an Achilles injury, struck to give the Royals a glimmer of hope.

First he had wicketkeeper Phil Mustard caught by McKenzie for just seven. And Stokes followed shortly afterwards, caught behind by Michael Bates for five, while Kyle Coetzer made 15 before playing on to become Mascarenhas’s third victim – the Royals star eventually finishing with figures of 3-20 off six overs.

But despite the early losses, Muchall insists there was never any panic among the Durham ranks.

He said: “We did lose a few early on. Mascarenhas bowled really well, so had to consolidate, but we knew if me and Benks batted for the majority of overs we could win it.

“We talked about it before the innings and said that we need one good partnership, and for one or two of the top four to be there at the end.

“It is the second time now that I’ve been there at the end, which is nice, but more importantly the result puts us joint top.”

Both Muchall and one-day skipper Benkenstein played risk-free innings to get Durham over the line – the former making an unbeaten 67, and Benkenstein carrying his bat for 60.

The required run-rate of just over four runs per over never really seemed much of a challenge for the pair, who shared a partnership of 125, and were happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over with ones and twos as they closed in on the required target.

And Muchall was pleased at the way he was able to build his innings at just the right tempo.

He added: “The way my career has gone so far, I have always been susceptible to getting out early on. So it was nice to still be there at the end, and we were pleased at how we were able to build the innings.”

Now Muchall says the Dynamos have to look to build on their good start to their Pro40 campaign.

“In the last few years we’ve not done ourselves a huge amount of favours in one day cricket,” he said. “Dale has come in as one-day skipper, and has set specific roles for people and everyone seems to be finding their place.”

Durham play away to Scotland today.