Sowter and Clark too good for Steelbacks again as Durham clinch Blast victory

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Nathan Sowter and Graham Clark haunted the Steelbacks for the second time in the Vitality Blast this season after guiding Durham to a four-wicket win at Seat Unique Riverside.

Sowter followed his career-best figures of five for 15 against the Steelbacks in the reverse fixture with another brilliant spell of four for 14 to limit the visitors to 161 for seven from their 20 overs.

Emilio Gay top-scored with a career-best 53, but he lacked support from the rest of the line-up to produce a daunting total for the hosts to chase.

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Clark then delivered an emphatic performance at the top of the innings against the Steelbacks following his century from the opener.

Durham leg-spinner Nathan Sowter took his Blast wicket tally against the Steelbacks to nine in just eight oversDurham leg-spinner Nathan Sowter took his Blast wicket tally against the Steelbacks to nine in just eight overs
Durham leg-spinner Nathan Sowter took his Blast wicket tally against the Steelbacks to nine in just eight overs

His knock of 55 provided the foundation for the chase that was threatened by three wickets from Freddie Heldreich.

But, Durham held their composure to strengthen their credentials for a quarter-final place with their fourth win of the season.

The visitors solidly started in the powerplay without dominating the Durham attack.

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Gay, in for the injured Ricardo Vasconcelos, was the early pacesetter, impressing with his striking down the ground, including back-to-back boundaries against Luke Robinson.

Chris Lynn made a slow start to his knock but brought up the 50 stand with a fine cut behind point to the fence.

After clearing the rope for the first time, the Australian was starting to find his range, only to fall for 24 to a brilliant diving catch from Liam Trevaskis at long-off to hand leg-spinner Sowter the breakthrough.

Sowter was then responsible for the second wicket as Josh Cobb, on his 100th T20 appearance for the club, got himself in a mighty tangle after surviving an lbw shout and was run out by Ashton Turner.

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Gay continued to play the anchor role and brought up his maiden T20 fifty from 38 balls to position his side for a late surge over the 150-run mark.

But, Sowter continued to torment the Steelbacks line-up.

He prised out skipper David Willey and bowled Saif Zaib to put the clamps on the visitors.

Sowther ended his spell with his fourth scalp as Gay was caught on the boundary for 53, taking his ninth wicket in two games against Northants for the cost of just 29 runs.

The Steelbacks scrambled to a competitive total of 161 for seven courtesy of useful late cameos from AJ Tye and Tom Taylor.

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Northants missed a golden opportunity to set the Durham chase back in the second over when Taylor put down a simple chance at short midwicket to dismiss Alex Lees.

The Durham skipper and Clark surged past their 50 partnership at the end of the powerplay, moving ahead of the required rate courtesy of a huge six by the latter.

Heldreich earned brief respite for the visitors by breaking the stand with his first ball, pinning Lees lbw for 30.

Clark followed in the footsteps of his team-mate Sowter by defying the Steelbacks again. After scoring his maiden T20 century at Wantage Road in the first match of the competition, he proved equally destructive on home soil, powering his way to 50 from just 25 balls.

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Heldreich kept the visitors in with a shout of hauling back the hosts working in tandem with a miserly spell from Zaib, removing Michael Jones and the key wicket of Clark for 55.

Zaib then cranked up the pressure when Ollie Robinson was caught on the fence, ending his four-over spell for one for 17.

Turner eased the tension for the hosts and all but carried them over the line with a vital knock of 31 from 18.

Liam Trevaskis wrapped up proceedings by smashing Tye over the rope before the contest was ended by a wide.

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