Plunkett stays cool while all around fall
Durham 72 for 7 (Plunkett 30*, Bichel 4-22) beat Essex 71 (Bichel 25, Plunkett 4-15, Killeen 3-9, Gibson 3-21) by seven wickets
After a delayed start, Neil Killeen and Ottis Gibson ripped through Essex, exploiting a damp pitch and some indifferent batting. From the moment Gibson had Alastair Cook caught behind for 0 off a thin edge in the second over, the innings fell apart.
By the time Steve Harmison was called into action Essex were 36 for 6, and in his second over he conceded the first boundary of the innings. But Plunkett came on as second change and blew away the tail with a career-best 4 for 15, Andy Bichel offering the only significant fight.
If Durham thought that chasing 72 was a doddle, then two early strikes from Bichel and one from the on-loan Martin Saggers had the home supporters on the edge of their seats. A mini revival hit the rocks when Graham Napier grabbed two quick wickets to reduce Durham to 38 for 7.
Plunkett then took charge and dominated a vital eighth-wicket stand of 34 - the biggest of the match - with Gibson. But Essex should have taken another wicket within one run of Plunkett's arrival when Danish Kaneria dropped a chance at mid-on from a chipped drive by Gibson. Their frustration multiplied when later in the same over Napier bowled a no-ball and Plunkett smashed the free hit for a massive straight six.
From then on Plunkett ground Essex down and it was fitting that he cracked Saggers for four through the covers to seal a remarkable win.