Ben Stokes struck an unbeaten 90 off 68 balls on his return from injury but Durham Jets fell to a heavy 44-run loss against Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley in their opening match of the 2018 Vitality Blast.
The all-rounder tore his hamstring ahead of England’s second Test against Pakistan earlier in June and will be available for the third T20I against India on Sunday, if he suffers no setbacks following the Jets’ defeat in the North Group.
Stokes, who played in the match as a batsman only, opened for the visitors – as they looked to chase down 201 – and blasted eight fours and five sixes in his innings as he carried his bat but failed to be supported by his team-mates as Durham finished 156-4 in their 20 overs.
Yorkshire, having been put in to bat, lost Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the second over but Adam Lyth (92 not out) and Harry Brook (44) shared an 81-run second wicket stand as the hosts made an impressive 200-3.
Lyth’s innings proved to be a match-winning effort, hitting nine fours and three sixes, and the Vikings opener was backed up well by his side’s bowlers – with Jack Brooks taking 3-21 to help the hosts seal the win.
In the South Group, Paul Stirling produced an excellent all-round performance as Middlesex edged Surrey to pick up a three-wicket win at Lord’s. SCORECARD
The Irish all-rounder took 3-26, as he grabbed a good return catch to get rid of Will Jacks in the second over, trapped the well-set Rory Burns lbw for 36 and had Sam Curran caught on the ring as the Surrey batsman slipped while chasing a wide ball.
Having fallen to 89-4, Rikki Clarke got the visitors back on track as he hit 50 off 25 balls but after he was bowled by Tom Helm, Surrey managed just 17 runs from their last four overs as they posted a below-par 158-6.
Stirling got off to a brilliant start, striking Morne Morkel for three fours and a six as the South African’s first over went for 22 runs. The Irish all-rounder reached his half-century off 22 balls and brought up the milestone with a boundary off Jade Dernbach.
But, when the Middlesex opener was caught off Gareth Batty it triggered a collapse that saw the home side lose four wickets in seven balls for just one run before Morkel dropped Hilton Cartwright, whose 38 ultimately guided his side home with six balls spare.
Elsewhere in the North Group, Worcestershire Rapids pulled off a nail-biting five-wicket win over Lancashire Lightning as they chased down 189 with one ball spare. SCORECARD
Keaton Jennings hit three fours and two sixes as he struck 50 off 33 balls to help Lightning make a competitive 188-6 at Old Trafford, after Geroge Rhodes claimed 2-27.
Important contributions of 42 from Joe Clarke, 35 from Calum Ferguson and an unbeaten 37 from Brett D’Oliveira saw the visitors take home the two points.