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7th June 2024 Match Reports

Alex Lees leads the way with unbeaten 71* as Durham record first Vitality Blast win of 2024, with victory over the Foxes

Durham 178 for three beat Leicestershire Foxes 177 for 7 by seven wickets with three balls to spare.

Skipper Alex Lees led from the front with an unbeaten 71 from 53 balls as Durham bounced back from two heavy defeats to register their first win of the Vitality Blast campaign, beating Leicestershire Foxes by seven wickets in a tight finish at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

Wicketkeeper Ben Cox hit 50 off 31 balls as the Foxes recovered from 106 for six to post 176 for seven from their 20 overs.  Legspinner Nathan Sowter took three for 23 and left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson two for 23 against his former county after Rishi Patel had launched the Foxes innings with 35 off 17 balls and Sol Budinger made 26 from 21.

But thanks to Lees, who hit three sixes but only two fours, with support from David Bedingham (43 from 32) and Ashton Turner (22 from 16), Durham passed their target with three balls to spare, Leicestershire not helping their cause by conceding 20 runs in extras, giving away nine extra balls in the process.

Patel, who hit a scintillating century in this fixture last year, looked as if he might deliver something similar after Durham opted to field first but after six fours and a six he hit straight into the hands of deep midwicket as Parkinson, who took 107 T20 wickets as a Leicestershire player, celebrated his first wicket against them.

Nonetheless, his 35 gave the Foxes a flying start, yet one they looked in danger of wasting as they slipped to 106 for six at 14 overs, having been 51 for one in the sixth.

Peter Handscomb was caught at extra cover off the penultimate ball of the power play and they were 78 for four from 10 overs after Louis Kimber picked out deep square leg before Sol Budinger (26 from 21) holed out to long-on, where ex-Durham stalwart Phil Mustard’s 17-year-old son Haydon took a good catch on his Blast debut.  Sowter produced two beauties in the space of three deliveries to bowl Wiaan Mulder (20 off 16) and new man Ben Mike without scoring.

Yet the Foxes dug themselves out of their hole superbly, hitting 70 from the last six overs for the loss of only Rehan Ahmed to a catch at long-on. Cox’s enterprise brought him six fours, one a ramp off Ben Raine, who he lifted over the legside rope for six before completing his first T20 half-century for three years with a scrambled single off the last ball of the innings.

Mulder bowled Graham Clark for 14 but Durham were up with the required rate in coming out of the powerplay on 53 for one, moving to 86 for one at the halfway point, which made them favourites.

After both Lees, on 36, and Bedingham, on 32, had survived difficult chances, a breakthrough came when Bedingham, in his first Blast appearance since 2022 in place of ex-Foxes captain Colin Ackermann, was well caught at wide long-on to end an 83-run partnership, at which point the requirement was 60 off 38 balls.

That came down to 49 off 30, from which Lees instantly cut six with a perfectly executed scoop off Josh Hull, after which Lees hit a further maximum. Scott Currie bowled Turner in the penultimate over but only six were needed off the last, with Ollie Robinson chopping Mulder to the offside boundary to win the contest.

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