Dominant Durham led by Lees Secure First Vitality Blast 2024 victory Against Leicestershire

Durham’s Vitality Blast campaign received a much-needed boost as they clinched their maiden victory against Leicestershire Foxes, led by skipper Alex Lees’ authoritative 71 not out.

Lees’ stellar performance helped Durham overcome Leicestershire’s challenging total, marking a significant turnaround from their previous defeats.

Dominant Durham led by Lees Secure First Vitality Blast 2024 victory Against Leicestershire
Alex Lees anchored Durham chase. Getty Images

Leicestershire 176 for 7 (Cox 50*, Sowter 3-23) lost against Durham 178 for 3 (Lees 71*) by seven wickets.

Durham overcame two crushing losses to win their first game of the Vitality Blast, defeating Leicestershire Foxes by seven wickets in a close game at the Uptonsteel County Ground thanks to captain Alex Lees’ unbeaten 71 from 53 balls.

Ben Cox, the wicketkeeper, scored fifty runs in thirty-one balls to help the Foxes rally from 106 for six to 176 for seven after 20 overs. After Rishi Patel opened the Foxes batting with 35 off 17 balls and Sol Budinger struck 26 from 21, legspinner Nathan Sowter bagged 3 for 23 and left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson 2 for 23 against his previous county.

With David Bedingham (43 from 32) and Ashton Turner (22 from 16) providing support, Lees, who hit three sixes but only two fours, helped Durham surpass their target with three balls remaining. Leicestershire, on the other hand, did not help their cause as they gave up nine extra balls and gave up 20 runs in extra time.

After Durham decided to field first, Patel, who amassed 107 T20 wickets as a Leicestershire player, appeared to be able to replicate his brilliant century-scoring performance from the previous year. However, after six fours and a six, he hit straight into the hands of deep midwicket, and Parkinson celebrated his first wicket against them.

Even so, he handed the Foxes a great start, one that they appeared likely to blow when they fell to 106 for 6 at the 14th over, having been 51 for 1 in the sixth.

They were 78 for 4 from 10 overs after Louis Kimber picked out deep square leg and Budinger holed out to long-on, where former Durham star Phil Mustard’s 17-year-old son Haydon made a solid catch on his Blast debut. Peter Handscomb was caught at extra cover off the penultimate ball of the powerplay. In just three deliveries, Sowter bowled Wiaan Mulder and new man Ben Mike without allowing a run to be scored.

Also Read: Saif Zaib Shines as Northamptonshire Triumphs Over Worcestershire in Vitality Blast 2024 Thriller

Nevertheless, Foxes skillfully emerged from their hole, scoring 70 runs in the final six overs with just Rehan Ahmed falling victim to a long-on catch. Through his hard work, Cox managed to score six fours, including a ramp off Ben Raine, which he lofted over the leg-side line for a six. He also finished with a scrambling single off the final ball of the session, marking his first T20 half-century in three years.

Graham Clark was dismissed by Mulder for 14, but Durham had already amassed the necessary run rate after ending the powerplay at 53 for 1, and they were now favorites at 86 for 1.

The breakthrough came when Bedingham, in his first Blast appearance since 2022 in place of the injured former Foxes captain Colin Ackermann, was well caught at wide long-on to end an 83-run partnership. At that point, the requirement was 60 off 38 balls. Lees, on 36, and Bedingham, on 32, had both survived difficult chances.

That came down to 49 off 30, from which Lees smashed a further maximum and cut six off the bat with a brilliant scoop off Josh Hull. Turner was bowled by Scott Currie in the last over, but Ollie Robinson’s offside boundary chop of Mulder meant that only six runs were required to win the match.

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