Stokes fires in Durham win

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BEN Stokes produced another bludgeoning batting display to keep Durham’s t20 qualification hopes alive last night, writes Graeme Anderson.

But he was the first to point afterwards that this revival is far more than a one-man show.

Durham saw off Leicestershire’s challenge at the Riverside Ground after restricting the visitors to just 119-7 in their 20 overs,.

Stokes 41 runs in just 26 balls, which included two fours and three sixes saw Durham coast through to victory after being in difficulties on 56-5 at one stage.

But he told the Echo: “It was a solid team performance and it wasn’t just down to one contribution.

“The bowling was probably the key to it.

“To keep Leicestershire below 120 meant that we weren’t under pressure to go out and chase down a massive total.

“Chris Rushworth had brilliant figures and then when we came to bat there were also good knocks from Scott Borthwick and Gareth Breese.”

Rushworth returned career best figures of three for 19 – although Stokes inevitably got in on the act, taking two for 27.

And then when it came to Durham’s batting, Borthwick gave his side a platform with 30 runs from 34 balls and Breese provided superb assistance with 24 balls from just 15 balls as Durham after a mid-innings wobble with two overs to spare.

Stokes’ pivotal innings though made it three t20s in a row where his contribution has proved key to victory.

And now he looks to take that form into Durham’s last t20, this Sunday against Derbyshire, where a fourth win in a row – the first time Durham would have achieved such a feat in this form of the game – would give them a realistic chance of qualifying for the next stage of the competition.

“I know qualifying is going to be difficult but we’ve got a massive sense of confidence about us with things coming together in all departments.

“If the bowlers keep competing the way they have been doing and really keeping the totals down like they did in this game then we’ve got every chance of getting another win at the weekend and we’ll see if that is enough to take us into the next stage.

“It would be great if we could do it because we’ve come into a really good run of form at the moment.”

Durham scored only six runs in four overs in the middle of their innings and it was when Anthony Ireland was guilty of a fumble at long-off that the floodgates opened.

It allowed Stokes to go back for a second run and he hit two of the next four balls from Shakib Al Hasan for six over long-on and backward square leg.

In the next over he pulled Shiv Thakor for six, while Breese produced some clever improvisations in hitting four fours.

After being put in Leicestershire did not get going at all until Taylor and Ned Eckersley scored 23 off the last two overs.

Chris Rushworth’s opening burst of three wickets for 10 runs in three overs stifled the Foxes, who were indebted to England Under 19 all-rounder Thakor for holding things together with 42 off 38 balls.

He hit one four and a six over long-off, otherwise there were only two boundaries in the innings until Eckersley hit Stokes for four and six in the final over.