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GORDON Muchall again showed his liking for 40-over cricket as he revived Durham following a sluggish start against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Muchall’s 96 not out carried Durham to the unexpected riches of 200 for seven after they had taken until the 28th over to reach 100.
There had been only ten fours in the innings until Muchall drove two sixes off the last seven balls as he justified the decision to wait until the last four overs to take the batting powerplay. They yielded 44 runs and gave Durham a huge lift.
Durham were put in on a slow pitch and were unable to find any momentum against the medium pace wobblers of Dimitri Mascarenhas, who has often troubled them in one-day cricket.
He bowled straight through his eight overs to take one for 27 and at that point Durham had struggled to 58 for three after 15.
Hopes of building a competitive total seemed to lay chiefly with Paul Collingwood, who had come in at No 3 on his return from a hand injury.
He still did not look entirely comfortable as he occasionally took his right hand off the bat, but he had made 28 off 44 balls when Muchall called him for a very risky run.
Jimmy Adams raced in from extra cover and after his direct hit it scarcely needed the confirmation from the Sky TV cameras to send Collingwood on his way.
At the start of the innings Phil Mustard fell for five when he was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Matthew Bates off Kabir Ali and Ben Stokes lost his leg stump for one when playing round a ball from Chris Wood.
Mark Stoneman took ten balls to get off the mark, only to be caught at mid-off for off Mascarenhas 16 after a stand of 32 with Collingwood.
They worked the ball round and ran well between the wickets, while both hit a boundary as 12 came off the seventh over, bowled by Kabir.
But it all began to go wrong with Stoneman’s exit and Muchall had scored only nine off 27 balls, which included an edged four, when he went down the pitch to hit left-arm spinner Danny Briggs for four. It proved to be the last boundary for 12 overs.
Durham decided to bring in Johann Myburgh, giving him the chance to prove a point to the club who signed him last season but declined to select him after May.
It meant there was no place for either Will Smith or Michael Richardson, who was the top scorer in the last CB 40 match against Glamorgan.
At No 7 in the order, Myburgh did not get in until the 33rd over after Muchall and Dale Benkenstein had put on 83 in 16 overs.
The slowness of the pitch and his own lack of timing saw Benkenstein score 27 off 46 balls before he cleared mid-off for his only boundary. He was bowled by the next ball from Sean Ervine and must have questioned his decision not to take the batting powerplay earlier.
Durham left it until the last four overs and in the second of those Myburgh gave himself room to hit over the off side and was yorked by Kabir for eight.
Wood spoilt a good performance by conceding 17 off the 39th over, which included a wide plus a top-edged four by Gareth Breese and the only six of the innings, driven by Muchall off Wood’s final ball.
Breese was caught at deep mid-wicket in the final over, but there was still time for Muchall to hit his second six and fifth four. After taking 69 balls to reach 50 his next 46 runs came off 30 deliveries.