Northamptonshire squeeze into top four
Northamptonshire 133 for 3 beat Durham 129 for 5 by seven wickets
Northamptonshire clinched fourth place in the northern group of the Friends Provident t20 as they eased to a seven-wicket win at the Emirates Durham ICG on Sunday. They booked a trip to Taunton for the quarter-finals on July 26 or 27 as they won with 13 balls to spare after Durham limped to 129 for 5 from their 20 overs.
Northamptonshire had looked like winning by an even bigger margin when they were 121 for one with 5.1 overs left. But they lost Alex Wakely lbw to Steve Harmison for 35 and two balls later Rob White edged Gareth Breese to Phil Mustard.
The offspinner enjoyed the rarity of delivering a wicket maiden in a Twenty20 game, but White's 63 off 49 balls had all but delivered victory. He continued his recent good form by hitting two sixes on his way to 50 off 38 balls and also carved Harmison for two fours when the paceman gave him width outside off stump.
Liam Plunkett took the first wicket when left-hander Chaminda Vaas shaped to pull and got a top edge to slip. But with 57 already on the board in the seventh over the visitors were well on their way.
Albie Morkel hit Durham's only six over mid-wicket as 13 came off their final over, bowled by Northamptonshire skipper Andrew Hall. Arriving in the 11th over, South African Morkel seemed content to push the ball around until that final over, when he also hit one of his two fours in finishing unbeaten on 35, made off 27 balls.
Mark Stoneman was Durham's top scorer with 36, but he faced 41 balls and hit only three fours before slicing to backward point in the 16th over. He was also dropped twice at deep midwicket, by Lee Daggett on eight and Rob White on 25.
Durham had only 21 on the board after five overs when Stoneman survived a chance thanks to Daggett's drop before Ben Stokes rubbed salt into Jack Brooks' wounds by twice driving him through extra cover for four.
Stokes made 24 when his weakness against spin was exposed by James Middlebrook's first ball. It pitched outside the left-hander's leg stump but as he shaped to play it through midwicket it turned and hurried on to bowl him.
At a time when Durham needed to accelerate in mid-innings, Middlebrook conceded only six runs in his first two overs and the batsmen continued to show little sign of urgency until the final over.