Classy Durham into Finals Day
Durham 163 for 8 (Smith 51) beat Glamorgan 119 (Dalrymple 32, Plunkett 3-16) by 44 runs
Despite a delay of fifteen days, Durham romped to an easy win in their postponed quarter-final, beating Glamorgan by 44 runs to book the last place in Saturday's Twenty20 Finals Day. Glamorgan, replacing Yorkshire as Durham's opponents when the club fielded an illegible player two weeks ago, were the lesser side on paper and on the day.
The average Twenty20 score at Chester-le-Street this season is 118, yet Durham surpassed this with 51 from Will Smith and some fine lower-order hitting from Gareth Breese and Shaun Pollock. Defending 164 still required a tidy bowling performance, however, but Durham were up to the task. Liam Plunkett picked up 3 for 16 while Steve Harmison reminded the England selectors of his priceless pace value.
Unlike Durham, Glamorgan lacked middle- and lower-order ballast. Both sides suffered top-order slides, losing four wickets, but Durham's bowlers maintained a disciplined line to restrict the boundary count and send the required rate rocketing above 11-per-over. Durham's defence began in perfect fashion for Plunkett, bowling Richard Grant through the gate with a fine off-cutter with the first ball of the innings. David Hemp creamed him for four in the same over, but once Plunkett rediscovered his line, Hemp was lured into a fishy drive outside off.
At the other end, Shaun Pollock was keeping things tidy and kept Mike Powell tied down with his mixture of cutters and changes of pace. Frustrated, Powell tried to carve Plunkett through extra cover but found Smith - Durham's saviour with the bat - who dived forward to take a fine catch. When Tom Maynard was run-out by Harmison's deft piece of footwork, Glamorgan were 54 for 4 and limping.
All was not lost, however. Jamie Dalrymple cracked four fours in his 34, while Mark Wallace took the attack to Gareth Breese, threading three fours off one over. But the double-change by Dale Benkenstein to bring on Paul Collingwood and Harmison paid dividends. Dalrymple fell to a neat off-cutter from Collingwood and Harmison, who bowled near to (and occasionally in excess of) 90mph, bowled Wallace with a wonderfully disguised slower-ball. Glamorgan's tail kept the rate just within check, but continued to lose wickets at crucial stages, as Durham kept maintained the pressure.
Good though Durham's bowlers were, their batsmen deserve just as much praise. 56 were smashed from the last four overs by Pollock (20 from 12) and Breese (20 from 9), and they capitalised on a fine rescue-act by Smith whose 51 contained six elegant boundaries. Smith's stabilising influence came at a useful time, too, since Durham had lost four internationals with just 49 on the board - including the prized wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Smith, however, capitalised on the form he showed in his double hundred against Surrey, taking the attack to Glamorgan with a six and a four over midwicket off Hemp. Though he fell shortly after reaching his 37-ball fifty, he had at least laid the foundation for Durham's powerful lower-order to go ballistic. And they duly did.
Durham have waited a long while for this match, but their concentration never wavered from the goal today. They now face Middlesex in the second semi-final at The Rose Bowl on Saturday, and their potent bowling unit is looking in pristine shape.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo