Muralitharan provides boost to bowler~~s economy

Published: Sunday, May 6, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Sri Lankan spin wizard Muthiah Muralitharan produced a man-of-the-match performance against Derbyshire for Lancashire in the latest round of Benson and Hedges group matches on Friday. While he only took one wicket he was in miserly form and conceded just seven runs from his 10 overs to set up his county for a 10 wicket triumph and a much needed win after two defeats in its previous matches. Openers Mike Atherton and Mark Chiltern made 77 and 42 respectively as they rattled off the runs in double quick time. Australian duo Michael Hussey and Jeffrey Cook rescued Northamptonshire's Cup campaign with superb batting performances in a seven-wicket triumph over Warwickshire. Hussey made a brilliant 93 from just 111 balls and Cook continued where his fellow left-hander left off with an 86 that took the home side to within touching distance of the visitors' total of 263 for seven. Northants desperately needed this win after losing to Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, but it did itself few favours by dropping Nick Knight early on as he went on to smash a brilliant 101. The England batsman provided the backbone of a Warwickshire innings also lit up by big-hitting Dominic Ostler (39) and Neil Smith (40). In reply Hussey and Cook were helped out by Graeme Swann, whose 51 came from just 30 balls to seal a thrilling Northants victory with more than two overs to spare. Another foreign import former Zimbabwean batsman Murray Goodwin also produced a match winning effort for Sussex as it grabbed its first Cup win over Middlesex for 28 years by a comfortable 62 runs. Goodwin, who retired from Test cricket after last year's series in England because his family did not want to return to Zimbabwe on account of the political violence, made 108 off 116 balls to help his side post 243 for seven on a good pitch. Middlesex could not recover from losing its first three wickets for only 15 and went on to muster 181 for eight. Solid middle-order batting at least ensured Middlesex used up its full 50 overs despite falling well short of its target. Benjamin Hutton hit two fours and a six in making 52, while New Zealand's Stephen Fleming (44) and Paul Weekes (35) earlier put on 57 for the fourth wicket in 17 overs. England 'A' captain Mark Alleyne guided holders Gloucestershire towards the quarter-finals with a superbly paced innings at Bristol. The skipper hit an undefeated 79 as his side overhauled Glamorgan's total of 236 for six with five wickets and nine balls to spare, to record its third win in as many group matches. For the Welsh county, a third defeat spells elimination from the competition, despite a brilliant 142 not out by Australian opener Jimmy Maher after it was invited to bat.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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