DURHAM’S hopes of booking a Friends Life t20 quarter-final place took a major knock with a four-wicket defeat by Warwickshire off the last ball at Edgbaston.
Their chances of reaching the knockout stage are now in the balance as they move on to a crucial final north group fixture at home to Northamptonshire on Thursday.
The Dynamos suffered a second successive defeat despite a valiant effort by Dale Benkenstein as their one-day captain made an unbeaten 50 from 32 balls in lifting his team to 145 for five.
After failing to reach 140 in their previous three completed innings, Warwickshire may have approached their task with some uncertainty but the recalled Neil Carter injected new confidence at the top of the order.
After an early wicket for Liam Plunkett, Carter made 38 from 36 balls and most of the hard work was done while putting on 73 with Darren Maddy.
Maddy cut and drove sixes off Paul Collingwood and Plunkett before Carter was leg-before to Scott Borthwick and a first win in seven games was eventually secured after a late wobble against the spinners.
Gareth Breese dismissed Maddy (40) and Rikki Clarke during a spell of two for 18 and with five wanted off the last over from Borthwick, Jim Troughton (28) and Keith Barker fell to catches on the boundary. However, Chris Woakes found a gap on the off side to squeeze the final delivery away to the rope.
For a team with so much at stake, the first half of Durham’s innings was a non-event with four wickets down for only 49 runs after a catalogue of errors on a pitch that demanded some caution.
The resurgence began in the 12th over as Collingwood and Benkenstein targeted Ant Botha’s left-arm spin with leg-side sixes in a quick-fire stand of 36.
It needed a spectacular one-handed catch by Clarke, at full stretch on the mid-wicket boundary, to remove Collingwood for 24, but Breese turned up the heat on Warwickshire with an unbeaten 31 from only 22 balls.
The all-rounder took three boundaries – a six followed by two fours - in the final over from Barker and an unbroken partnership of 65 in 51 deliveries with Benkenstein at least gave Durham’s bowlers something to work with.