Calum MacLeod and Phil Mustard hit half-centuries as Durham began their Natwest t20 Blast campaign with a 41-run D/L victory over Northamptonshire, after rain forced an early finish at Chester-le-Street.
MacLeod made 60 to kick-start the innings, before Mustard’s 51 set Durham on course for a huge total, only for a late collapse to see Northants drag them back to 174-8.
However the Northants reply never got going, Chris Rushworth and Usman Arshad with two wickets apiece as the visitors slipped to 47-5 from eight overs by the time the rain arrived.
The Jets lost Mark Stoneman, bowled by Rory Kleinveldt without score in the opening over, but MacLeod and Mustard soon set about the visitors’ seamers in an explosive start that would provide the platform for their score.
MacLeod was the initial aggressor, taking three successive boundaries off David Willey’s second over, and two more off Olly Stone in the fourth, Kleinveldt only conceding three runs from his two opening overs but curiously didn’t return.
Instead Stone’s second over and last of the Powerplay cost 22 as five fours from MacLeod took him to a 23-ball half-century, which had included 11 boundaries, and was the bulk of Durham’s 61/1 from six.
Shahid Afridi couldn’t stop the duo as Mustard started to get in on the act, but the introduction of Josh Cobb broke the stand of 81 as MacLeod was brilliantly caught by Kleinveldt who stuck out a hand at fine leg.
Mustard hit six fours and a six off Cobb in putting on another 55 with Paul Collingwood as Durham raced to 137/2 by the end of the 14th over and were looking at a score of 200+.
However Mustard was caught in the deep off Cobb (2/3), who should have finished with three wickets but his final ball saw Collingwood dropped on the boundary for six.
The final five overs belonged to Northants though as they fought back excellently, Willey removing Collingwood for 27 four balls after the drop, before John Hastings, who smashed 80 off 26 balls against Northants last year, went for just three.
Shahid Afridi and Willey both picked up a further wicket as Ryan Pringle, Gordon Muchall and Keaton Jennings went in the final seven balls of the innings, Durham adding just 28 from the final five overs.
It would prove to be more than enough however as Northants never recovered from the loss of Willey, caught at point off Rushworth from his first ball and the final delivery of the opening over.
Josh Cobb was caught at mid-on two overs later, and Alex Wakely, whose last t20 appearance saw him lift the trophy in 2013, lasted just two balls before being bowled by Arshad.
The visitors were toppling at 36/3 and two wickets in four balls sent them over the edge, Levi, who had hit five boundaries in his 26, was bowled by Arshad, and Adam Rossington (9) hit Collingwood to the man at deep cover.
Afridi was at the crease but only made three, before the rain moved in and prevented him from doing any damage as Durham ran out comfortable winners on D/L.
Man of the Match – Calum MacLeod (Durham Jets): Coming in at 1/1, MacLeod’s blistering half century got Durham off to a flyer and set the base for their total that proved well beyond Northants, the Scotland international hitting 11 boundaries to reach a 23-ball half-century inside the sixth over.