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Josh Cobb’s second NatWest T20 fifty of the season and a fine debut bowling performance from Moin Ashraf helped the Steelbacks back to the top of the North Group in the NatWest T20 Blast with a 26-run win over Durham.

Chasing 162, Durham’s chase was on it’s knees within four overs as they slumped to 9 for 4. Paul Collingwood and Scott Borthwick attempted a revival but Durham could only limp to 135 for 8 and lost for a fourth time this season.

Ashraf, signed on a short-team deal as injury cover and given his Northants debut here, found some swing to take two wickets in three balls in his opening over - Jack Burnham drove at an away-swinger and edged to a diving Adam Rossington behind the stumps, then Michael Richardson got a leading edge to mid-off. 

“I was feeling a few nerves coming in but it was a great start, we got a bit more swing than we expected so that helped. We started really well and then backed it up with the spinners and in the field in difficult conditions." said Ashraf.

Ashraf’s third wicket came as Phil Mustard attempted a lofted straight drive and only found Steven Crook running back from mid-on. Richard Gleeson also played his part in the early damage as Mark Stoneman, first wicket to fall, dragged into his middle and leg stumps.

Northants were never put under pressure defending their 161 for 9, build around Cobb’s 68 in 47 balls. He followed up his match-winning unbeaten 56 against Worcestershire with a 34-ball fifty here, sweetly timing the ball throughout and striking five fours and four sixes. It was his 10th T20 half-century and he passed 2,000 T20 runs in the process.

He took 14 from the final over of the Powerplay - slapping Paul Coughlin wide of mid-off and midwicket either side of a handsome straight drive for six. His second straight six was timed superbly off Borthwick and when the leg spinner changed ends, Cobb planted him onto the roof of the Lynn Wilson centre.

But there was he little he could do to get away the canny seamers of Chris Rushworth, who bowled a nagging length and changed his pace superbly in a spell of four overs that cost only 17 runs. Rossington’s pull for six over deep-backward square the only blot on his figures.

Rushworth took the opening wicket after Northants captain Alex Wakely had given the innings some early impetus with 28 in 15 balls - including a well-timed pull over deep midwicket, but he was caught in the deep trying to play the same shot. Rossington didn’t play as urgently as in previous T20s, getting to 17 at a run-a-ball, but found Coughlin trying to lift Borthwick over deep midwicket.

Coughlin bowled a triple-wicket maiden to finish the innings which included a hat-trick from the final three balls of the innings - the second hat-trick for Durham in T20s and the second against Northants in the shortest format after Collingwood in 2011. It was scant consolation for Durham.

Highlights here:

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