Leicestershire keep hopes alive with win
Leicestershire 190 for 3 beat Durham 189 for 9 by 7 wickets
Leicestershire kept their slim hopes of a Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final place alive with a comprehensive seven-wicket win over an out-of-sorts Durham at the Riverside. Needing 190 to win after Durham had performed poorly with the bat, the Foxes took just 26 overs to claim their second success of this year's 40-over competition.
Victory was largely the result of some dynamic hitting from openers Jacques Du Toit and Andrew McDonald, who plundered 14 boundaries from the opening eight overs in Leicestershire's reply. The score had raced to 122 for 2 by the time they both departed and, even at that stage, the result was not in doubt.
McDonald made 46 before holing out to Dale Benkenstein at deep midwicket, while Du Toit scored 64 in just 37 balls and hammered two huge leg-side sixes off the same over from Neil Killeen.
The South African looked like winning the game himself as he hammered Killeen and Mitch Claydon to all corners of the ground, but his assault ended when he was caught by Ben Harmison on the boundary rope. That gave England hopeful Liam Plunkett his first wicket of the afternoon, and a second followed when Joshua Cobb edged behind.
Paul Nixon and James Taylor saw Leicestershire home though, and ensured Durham remained five points behind leaders Warwickshire in Group C. The writing was on the wall from a very early stage of a one-paced Durham batting effort that never really got going until it was much too late. The hosts made just 114 runs off the first 30 overs, and while they rallied from that point onwards, the damage had already been done.
Sam Cliff claimed three early wickets to prevent Durham's batsmen generating any momentum, luring Phil Mustard into a clubbed catch to mid-on, tempting Michael Di Venuto into a drive that was edged to slip and forcing Benkenstein into a mistimed shot that Du Toit juggled but managed to cling on to at midwicket.
Ben Stokes also went cheaply - the 19-year-old's fine run of form ended when he was trapped lbw for 4 - and when Ben Harmison departed two runs short of a half-century after providing Du Toit with his second catch of the afternoon, Durham were reeling at 110 for 5.
They mounted a recovery, largely thanks to the efforts of Gareth Breese and Gordon Muchall, both of whom posted scores in the 40s at almost a run-a-ball. Breese scored six boundaries before lobbing a catch to Matthew Boyce in the deep, while Muchall displayed commendable composure before he became Matthew Hoggard's only victim in the final over of Durham's innings.