DURHAM’S losing streak continued yesterday with the one-day side going down to a comprehensive defeat to Sri Lanka A at the Riverside.
Having tasted bitter defeats in the NatWest t20 Blast tournament, to Leicestershire, and the LV County Championship, to Warwickshire; there was to be no respite in the 50-over form of the game against the touring South Asian side..
It was seamer Lahiru Gamage who did the damage with a five-wicket haul as Durham, put into bat first after losing the toss, were bowled out for 196 from 43.2 overs.
Durham skipper Mark Stoneman was the first to fall as his bat found an edge and Scott Borthwick was soon to follow, caught behind to become Gamage’s first victim.
But the real drama was to follow as the 26-year-old grabbed a hat-trick to reduce Durham to 46-5 and was only denied four wickets from four balls by some sloppy fielding.
Michael Richardson edged through to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella, Ryan Pringle and Gordon Muchall were trapped lbw, both unable to get big enough stride’s forward.
And then first-team debutant Stuart Poynter should have become four in four, only for Dickwella to spill a regulation catch.
The reprieve looked as though it might be costly as wicketkeeper Poynter set about rebuilding the innings.
He scored 36, with Keaton Jennings notching 65, Jennings going on to share a 91-run stand with Gareth Breese (51) which lifted Durham towards 200.
A more competitive target still loomed, but then four wickets fell for just five runs as Durham collapsed almost seven overs shy of their allocated 50.
The eventual total of 196 was a reasonable effort, considering what had gone before.
But it never really looked like being enough and so it proved as Sri Lanka reached their target with more than eight overs to spare.
Worse than the fact that Sri Lanka A reached the target so rapidly was the fact that they reached it with eight wickets still in hand.
That they did so was largely down to fine innings from Danushka Gunathilaka (87 not out) and Mahhela Udawatte (50) who gave their side the perfect platform from which to build a winning innings.
It might just have been different had Graham Onions been able to give Durham an early breakthrough, but neither Breese nor Borthwick could hold the ball in the slip cordon after Udawatte edged.
That scare negotiated, the two openers went on to reach a century partnership at the end of the 23rd over before Udawatte was bowled by Breese six balls later.
That breakthrough was a welcome relief for Durham but it failed to prove pivotal.
Onions did finally get a wicket to his name when Dickwella’s drive was snapped up by Richardson at cover.
But Ashan Priyanjan hit Ryan Pringle for consecutive boundaries, the last shot a straight drive, and victory came up with 51 balls to spare.