THE Saltires have just two games remaining to record a victory in their final YB40 campaign after Durham cruised to an eight-wicket win in a rain-hit game at Titwood, Glasgow, yesterday.
Once again the Scots looked out of sorts as the county, targeting a semi-final berth, dominated almost from the start to finish.
With rain forecast, Preston Mommsen’s decision to bat first may have been questionable and the interruptions certainly worked in favour of the visitors.
Set a revised target of 138 from 27 overs, Durham were cruising on 50-0 when it looked as if another heavy downpour might spare the Saltires and leave the county cursing their luck.
Mark Stoneman’s onslaught had put Durham 13 runs ahead on D/L but torrential rain arrived just two deliveries short of what would have constituted a match and umpires George Sharp and Jeremy Lloyds had little option but to bring the players from the field.
It would have been a travesty had play not resumed and it duly did, with Durham set a further amended target of 103 from 20 overs.
Stoneman continued to punish the Scottish bowlers while Phil Mustard weighed in with three sixes into the pavilion in his 30. Mustard was bowled by Moneeb Iqbal, who had Gordon Muchall stumped by Craig Wallace two balls later as the Saltires rallied.
But it was too little, too late and Stoneman was unbeaten on 54 from 49 balls with nine fours when Ben Stokes plundered the winning boundary with 23 deliveries to spare.
Earlier, the Saltires made steady, if unspectacular progress after Mommsen had won the toss and elected to bat.
Freddie Coleman got the board ticking when he clipped Chris Rushworth’s first delivery to the rope at square leg but the Scots had to wait seven overs for their next boundary.
Much of the reason for this was down to the miserly performance of Graeme Onions.
The England fast bowler would no doubt rather have been on Test duty at Chester-le-Street, but his mind was on the job in hand as he sent down eight consecutive overs at a cost of just 15 runs.
An rain interruption did little to help Scotland’s cause and Hamish Gardiner and Coleman struggled to score at three runs an over. They did, though, manage to put on 50 runs for the first wicket before Coleman was bowled by Gareth Breese for 24 featuring three boundaries.
Gardiner followed soon after, chopping a Scott Borthwick delivery on to his stumps and it was left to Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod to rebuild.
Progress was still slow and there was a spell in mid-innings when the Titwood crowd endured 11 overs without a single boundary to savour.
The drought was brought to an end when MacLeod swept Borthwick for four, adding a further two boundaries in the leg spinner’s next over.
MacLeod and Berrington added 62 for the third wicket before the former played a Stokes delivery on to his stumps to depart for 33 from 42 balls.
Berrington went on to top-score with 39 but his effort took 61 deliveries and included a solitary boundary.
Wallace added a rapid 17no as the Saltires hoisted their tally to 161-6.