Durham send Worcester crashing
Durham 144 for 6 beat Worcestershire 141 for 8 by three runs
Durham ended a five-match losing streak and dumped Worcestershire back on the bottom of the Friends Provident t20 North Group with a three-run victory at New Road. A second-wicket stand of 85 in 10 overs from Mark Stoneman and Ben Stokes formed the bulk of Durham's total of 144 for 6.
That looked in danger when Sanath Jayasuriya launched the Royals' innings with 45 from 29 balls, but Gareth Breese took 3 for 14 as they fell just short on 141 for 8. Jayasuriya was in irresistible form, highlighted by his smiting of a four and two sixes from Albie Morkel's first three deliveries.
But Breese turned the game on its head with a stunning intervention. The unsung allrounder held a simple catch at cover from Phil Jaques and dismissed Jayasuriya and Moeen Ali in his first over.
Breese followed up by removing Alexei Kervezee and the offspinner had figures of 3 for 8 until Vikram Solanki straight drove his last ball for six. Although Solanki kept up the chase with 25 after a four-week layoff with a pelvic injury, Worcestershire slipped out of contention when he was caught at deep cover off Ben Harmison.
Eventually they needed 14 from the final over and fell tantalisingly short when Imran Arif could only manage four and two from the last two balls.
Durham's struggle to get to grips with the shorter game has been one of the mysteries of the season. It is now six games since any batsman made a half-century and they have failed to reach 150 in four of the last five games.
Initially they promised more as Stokes made a competition-best 44 and Stoneman weighed in with 46 from 36 balls on his Twenty20 debut. Stokes, 19, went for his shots from the outset, hitting five fours and two sixes until Moeen held a shoulder-high catch as the left-hander narrowly failed to clear the fence at long-on.
Stoneman went in the following over, easily stumped in a one-off over by the returning Solanki. Thereafter a cameo 24 from Morkel was the best Durham could offer as Arif, Shantry and Jayasuriya conceded only two boundaries in the last five overs.