Imran Tahir claims England T20 best to scupper Foxes

Durham 153 for 7 (Collingwood 36, Chappell 3-23) beat Leicestershire 120 (Dexter 35, Tahir 4-14) by 33 runs

The irrepressible Imran Tahir turned the match on its head as Durham Jets claimed their first win of the Vitality T20 Blast season and Leicestershire Foxes suffered a first defeat.

The Pakistan-born South African leg spinner, playing for his seventh county at the age of 39, took four wickets for 14 in his four overs, his best figures in England and the sixth time in his T20 career he has taken four wickets or more.

He was the main architect of a Leicestershire collapse from 83 for 2 in the 12th over to be 120 all out in 18.3 overs, the turning point in the chase occurring when Tahir had Neil Dexter stumped at the second attempt by Stuart Poynter and bowled Colin Ackerman within the space of four deliveries.

Having hung on to a stinging return catch earlier to remove Cameron Delport, Tahir claimed his fourth success when Mohammad Nabi hit him straight to long on.

Tahir said: “”I always believe I will take wickets. Sometimes I go for a few but you have to gamble to get wickets and if you put people under pressure you will get wickets. This is my seventh county in England but everywhere I go I enjoy my cricket and I meet different people and I always want people to remember my cricket and remember my character.”

The Foxes struggled to build any momentum on a very humid evening. They were 33 without loss after the Powerplay overs but neither Delport nor Dexter were timing their shots particularly well and quickly fell behind the required run rate.

After slipping from 83 for 2 to 86 for 5 in the space of nine deliveries they were facing an uphill struggle and their attempts to up the scoring rate simply cost them more wickets as big hits found the fielders, James Weighell and Nathan Rimmington each picking up a couple of cheap wickets. Dexter top scored with 35.

Durham were 48 for 1 after the Powerplay overs, their return swelled by a 17-run over by the left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson, whose first three deliveries went for four-four-six off the bat of the visiting captain, Tom Latham. The only other maximum of the first six overs came from Paul Collingwood, who drove his first ball back over the head of Ben Raine and almost into the radio boxes on the top level of the Grace Road pavilion.

Collingwood and Latham added 30 in 15 balls but Latham gave his wicket away somewhat by smacking a wide full toss from Zak Chappell straight to the fielder at backward point.

Durham needed Collingwood to score heavily with Ben Stokes, who made an unbeaten 90 in a losing cause as he returned from injury in his side’s opening fixture against Yorkshire, not available this time.

The 42-year-old former England man used all his experience with some nicely improvised shots but fell for 36, run out by a direct hit by wicketkeeper Lewis Hill as he tried to steal a run as Mohammad Abbas appealed for leg before.

Abbas, the Pakistan pace man, was easily the pick of the Foxes attack, delivering a tantalising mix of yorkers and slower balls to concede only 15 runs in his four overs, just six of them at the death. He surrendered only one boundary and bowled 14 dot balls and deserved more than just the wicket of Weighell, whom he yorked with his next ball after Collingwood’s dismissal.

Chappell took two wickets in five balls to reduce Durham to 62-4 in the ninth over, bowling Ryan Pringle with the help of the bottom edge of the bat and beating Will Smith’s head-back swing across the line.

But Ryan Davies hit 22 off 14 balls on his Durham debut before becoming Afghanistan off-spinner Mohammad Nabi’s first victim as a Leicestershire bowler, and Poynter’s unbeaten 29 off 26 balls ensured Durham’s bowlers had something to defend.

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