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26th March 2010

Durham Defeat UAE to lift Emirates Airline Forty40 title

The left-hander added vital mid-innings impetus with an eye-catching display of strokeplay as Durham posted an impressive 279 from their 40 overs despite temperatures reaching 35 degrees at the Sheik Zayed Stadium.

Team shot

The Dynamos lost Ian Blackwell (7) early on when he edged a back-foot defensive push to the keeper, but laid good foundations through Phil Mustard and Ben Harmison (38) who added 98 in 17 overs until Harmison chipped one to wide long-on.

Having enjoyed a life on 57 when his UAE counterpart Naeemuddin Aslam missed a comfortable stumping opportunity, Mustard went on to clatter 13 fours and reach 84 at a run-a-ball before he too chipped into the deep only to see Shoib Sarwar take an excellent running catch at long-off.

With his side stuck in second gear and scoring at barely five-an-over, 18-year-old Stokes marched in to enliven proceedings with a marvellous display of cultured, yet powerful hitting.

He moved his feet to get to the pitch when he could, but also savaged anything marginally short in reaching a 29-ball half-century with three fours and four sixes. By then the amateur bowlers of the UAE barely knew where to bowl at the England Under-19 batsman who, in tandem with Gordon Muchall, added 124 in 14 overs for Durham’s fourth wicket.

He signed off with three sixes in an over from Arshad Ali, whose six, wicket-less overs leaked 60 runs, before slightly mistiming another leg-side force into the hands of deep mid-wicket to go 19 short of a hundred and with seven sixes to his name.

In the pursuit of late runs Dynamos lost Gareth Breese (12) and skipper Will Smith (1), run out to the last ball of the innings, leaving Muchall unbeaten on a stoic 55-ball half-century that included only two boundaries.

Once the UAE lost Arshad Ali (12) and Mohammad Iqbal (2) in the opening bursts by Neil Killeen and Callum Thorp, they had virtually no hope of causing an upset, but to their eternal credit, they did fight back through a third-wicket stand of 94 between Khurram Khan and Nigel Fernandes.

As the temperatures started to cool, Khan chipped and chased his way to 55 from 51 balls before he miscued to Steve Harmison at backward point, who then moved to long-off to end the 61-ball stay of Fernandes (37) when he holed out in the following over from Blackwell.

Harmison’s safe hands also accounted for Naeemuddin (14) to another miscued cut off Breese who, three balls later grazed Salman Farook’s off stump to make it 139 for six. The off-spinner threw one up in his next over to entice Shoib Sarwan to club one straight to Stokes at deep mid-wicket and retired from the attack with four for 34.

The hosts run out of steam toward the end allowing Killeen to claim two for 16 while Chris Rushworth took his first wicket in Dynamos colours as the Emirates finished 87 short of their victory target.

With two wins from as many starts in this Forty40 event, Durham pipped Surrey for the title on run rate, ensuring yet another trophy for Will Smith and another success in the books for Durham’s Brian Hunt going into his 35th season and fifth decade as the county’s scorer.

Team: Mustard, Blackwell, B Harmison, Muchall, Stokes, Breese, Smith, Thorp, Rushworth, Killeen, S Harmison.

Durham 279 for six (40 overs) (Stokes 81, Mustard 84, Muchall 52*, Qasim 3 for 45) beat UAE 193 for nine (Khurram Khan 55, Breese four for 34) by 86 runs.

By Mark Pennell in Abu Dhabi