ON the night when Durham’s new floodlights were turned on for the first time, Keaton Jennings lit up an eventful contest to shatter the only remaining 100 per cent winning record in the NatWest Blast T20.
The South African claimed a career best four-wicket haul to ensure Yorkshire Vikings were condemned to defeat by six runs despite some defiant strokeplay from Andrew Gale.
Yorkshire’s captain hit 41 from 34 deliveries to take his T20 runs tally to 150 from three innings this season but his efforts proved in vain thanks to some impressive bowling by Jennings.
Not only did the medium pacer claim the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Jack Leaning at key moments, the latter after the son of former goalkeeper Andy had just smashed two huge sixes.
But, most importantly of all, Jennings ended what had looked like being a potentially match-winning partnership between Gale and Jonny Bairstow.
The pair had put on 50 in just six overs before Bairstow was trapped lbw and, after that, the Jets always looked the most likely to prevail in front of a 5,539 crowd.
It meant a fitting start to life for the Riverside’s new additions, whose installation proved contentious to local residents despite the region now being guaranteed 2019 World Cup cricket.
More than 100 objections were made to the local Council, who as a result attached certain conditions before granting approval to the club’s plans last month.
One of these was that the lights can not be used beyond 10.30pm, something that at one stage last night looked like being tested following a heavy shower that delayed the scheduled start time by 25 minutes.
Which, with no overs being lost, meant there was a chance of play carrying on dangerously close to the cut-off time for the new lights.
Having been asked to bat after losing the toss, the Jets were clearly intent on not hanging around as Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard made a brisk start.
Stoneman led the way initially with a couple of lusty boundaries off Tim Bresnan before being handed a lifeline when Jack Leaning was unable to take a difficult catch to his right at cover.
The damage, though, was limited by Stoneman edging Liam Plunkett, fresh from being released from England duty earlier in the day, to Tom Lees at slip in the very next over.
His opening partner having gone, Mustard took up the mantle as Adil Rashid was smashed over mid-wicket for the first six of the evening.
It capped a frustrating few minutes for Rashid, who had seen his throw just miss the stumps with Calum MacLeod way out of his ground.
As with Stoneman, however, the let-off proved only temporary, Rashid finally getting his man after tempting MacLeod into a shot that found the safe hands of Bresnan in the deep.
Rashid then proved his own agility in the field with a tumbling catch at long on as Mustard failed in his attempts to lift Maxwell over the boundary rope in the 11th over.
At that stage, Durham were on 75-3 and in danger of handing the initiative to the visitors. Paul Collingwood, though, had other ideas as he took a liking to Maxwell’s bowling with one particularly powerful shot landing several rows up one of Chester le Street’s stands.
Collingwood attempted to do the same to Plunkett but instead saw his stumps shattered. That, though, merely brought John Hastings to the crease and he went on to ensure Durham set a decent sized target with a quick-fire unbeaten 37 that included Bresnan going for 18 runs from his final four deliveries.
Yorkshire, possibly still reeling from that nightmare finale, started poorly with Andrew Hodd being trapped in front of his stumps by Paul Coughlin in the second over.
Lees was then deceived by a slower delivery from Usman Ashraf, the left hander clearly annoyed with himself for spooning a simple chance to MacLeod at mid-on.
Gale and Bairstow then shared a half century stand before Jennings struck to shatter the wicket-keeper’s stumps.
Maxwell’s wicket was the next to fall as the Australian was trapped in front by Jennings before the big scalp the Jets craved was claimed in bizarre circumstances.
Gale, who had maintained the form of the Vikings’ opening two T20 fixtures, had reached 41 when, in attempting to turn Collingwood around the corner, he slipped and clipped his own stumps.
Richard Pyrah tried to inject some urgency into the innings but holed out to Ryan Pringle at deep mid wicket to give Jennings his third victim.
The Jets’ duo repeated the trick two overs later as Jack Leaning perished in an identical fashion to Pyrah and the game was almost up for Yorkshire, who did at least give the host a few genuine concerns with some late big hitting.
Bresnan was responsible for most of those but even a towering six off the final delivery was not enough to save Yorkshire, as Durham claimed victory with 16 minutes of their allotted floodlight time remaining.
Scorecard: Page 5.