Leg-spinner Nathan Sowter picked up career best bowling figures of five for 15 as Northamptonshire Steelbacks were beaten by Durham in this Vitality Blast clash at Wantage Road.
The Australian-born T20 specialist bagged his maiden first five-wicket haul setting off a Steelbacks batting collapse of five for 17 to restrict them to just 137 in their 20 overs. Opener Graham Clark then powered 102 off just 49 balls (13 fours, four sixes) to record his first T20 century as Durham motored to their target with 6.4 overs to spare to win by 10 wickets.
Sowter’s wickets had stemmed the tide after Ricardo Vasconelos (52) and Saif Zaib (28) shared an enterprising 62-run partnership in 6.2 overs.
That stand came after the Steelbacks lost dangermen Chris Lynn and David Willey in the space of five balls at the start of their innings and gave them a strong platform of 98-3 at the start of the 14th over before Sowter ran amok.
Earlier Steelbacks skipper David Willey won the toss but was soon ruing his decision to bat first as Bas de Leede marked his Durham T20 Blast debut in style. First the Dutch international’s inswing accounted for Australian power hitter Lynn who was unlucky when the ball rebounded off his pad and clipped the leg stump. Then Willey, playing his 250th career T20 game, was caught behind on 1 to leave the hosts stumbling on 2 for 2.
Josh Cobb struck de Leede twice through point for four and top-edged him over the keeper for another boundary before his innings ended when he offered Sowter a return catch after smashing a full toss.
At this point the Steelbacks were 36 for three at the end of the powerplay, but Vasconcelos quickly picked up the mantle, twice powering Ben Raine through the covers. He was unafraid to go the aerial route which kept the fielders interested, benefiting on 15 when Luke Doneathy shelled a difficult chance in the deep running backwards. But he grew in authority, pulling Liam Trevaskis over deep square leg for six and scooping de Leede for four.
Zaib played the supporting role but soon found the boundary with a lovely late cut off Sowter. Vasconcelos punished a free hit high over the Family Stand at backward square leg.
At this stage the Steelbacks were set for a sizeable total, but the wheels came off when Vasconcelos was caught behind off Sowter and Zaib followed in the next over caught at deep backward square off Raine.
Sowter then struck twice in the space of three balls to remove all-rounders Tom Taylor and Rob Keogh, both lbw, before he had Andrew Tye adjudged caught behind to give him his fifth wicket. It was left to Trevaskis to mop up with two wickets in the final over.
Clark got Durham off to a flier, smashing 24 off Josh Cobb’s first over, including two sixes either side of the ground before smashing Willey over mid-off for four. He eased to his half-century off just 21 deliveries as Durham moved to 77 at the end of the powerplay.
Cumbrian-born Clark kept going, striking all round the ground, surviving a sharp chance early in his innings and more straightforward ones on 79 and 92. A couple of miscues landed safe but otherwise he looked in control, passing his previous highest score of 91 with a huge six down the ground.