Powerful Morkel sinks Lancashire
Durham 181 for 4 (Mustard 61, Morkel 44*) beat Lancashire 180 for 6 (Law 54, Loye 53, Borthwick 3-23)
Lancashire, batting on winning the toss, faced up first to the South African pair of Morkel and Shaun Pollock, who struck quickly dismissing Lou Vincent. Most credit, though, must go to that superb all-round county cricketer, Gareth Breese, who took a brilliant low diving catch far to his right at slip.
Then came an intriguing, all too brief battle between two veterans still scarcely past their prime: Stuart Law took on Pollock. Twice he lashed straight shortish balls through the covers for four and was clearly determined to dominate. He was beaten a couple of times, but on the whole came off the better of the two, with Pollock's three-over spell costing him 27 runs.
Law ran to his 50 off 34 balls in fine style before Breese had him beaten down the pitch and stumped for 53. He had taken most of the bowling, as was clear when later opener Mal Loye also reached 50 - off 33 ballsl Loye emulated Kevin Pietersen's famous (or infamous) stroke by switching to left-hand mode and pulling a six over point, off Breese. He attempted the same stroke again several times, but without the same success; in fact, he twice came close to being dismissed. Eventually he was bowled for 53, taking a big swing.
The bowler in question was Scott Borthwick, a leg-spinner making his debut for Durham. He showed real promise, taking a return catch to dismiss Steven Croft for 29and, entrusted with the last over of the innings, had Kyle Hogg caught by the ubiquitous Breese on the square-leg boundary. His figures of 4-0-23-3 have a dreamlike quality for a debutant in Twenty20. The other bowlers had little to rejoice about, although Liam Plunkett's first two overs were very impressive without reward.
Durham faced a daunting task, needing 181 to win. Michael Di Venuto (21) and Phil Mustard, added a brisk 42 for the first wicket, with Mustard hitting Dominic Cork for a straight six in the third over. But the chase really heated up when, in the poorest light of the match, Dale Benkenstein (31) joined Mustard and the two added 50 in just over five overs.
However, Benkenstein fell to a catch on the long-on boundary, and despite the efforts of Mustard, including two leg-side sixes off Gary Keedy's first two balls, the required scoring rate reached double figures. When Mustard fell for 61 off 40 balls there was always hope as long as that spectacular hitter, Morkel, was still there, with Pollock also in the mix.
Morkel began cautiously, but then casually swung Hogg for six over midwicket, followed by another one straight down the ground. It was down to 38 needed off three overs, still possible for Morkel. Fellow South African Faf du Plessis was the unlucky bowler - 19 off the over and the target halved. Pollock helped out by hitting Cork for six, taking a single, and allowing Morkel to put another into the stands. A misfield by Sajid Mahmood gave away a four, then a single brought the scores level at the end of the nineteenth over. Mahmood, to his disgust, then send a short ball down the leg side for a wide, and the game was over.