Blackwell's bat rescues shaky Somerset

Somerset Sabres, Gloucestershire Gladiators andLeicestershire Foxes won their respective run chases yesterday to turn up the heat on the Norwich Union NCL FirstDivision leaders, Worcestershire Royals.

Somerset Sabres, Gloucestershire Gladiators andLeicestershire Foxes won their respective run chases yesterday to turn up the heat on the Norwich Union NCL FirstDivision leaders, Worcestershire Royals.

Second-placed Somerset beat Yorkshire Phoenix by two wickets at Scarborough, while one-day specialists Gloucestershire saw off Kent Spitfires by five wickets at Cheltenham to move to within two points of Worcestershire. Leicestershire kept in touch, convincingly seeing off the bottom club, Lancashire Lightning, by seven wickets to keep in the title chase.

Somerset - in trouble at 74 for 7 - had Ian Blackwell to thank for their win. He scored an unbeaten 50 and shared in a ninth-wicket stand of 39 with Graham Rose which carried the visitors past Yorkshire's 141.

Richard Blakey, with 33, top-scored for Yorkshire, who were well tied down by Steffan Jones, who took 4 for 33, and the former Tyke Paul Jarvis, with 3 for 23.

Jack Russell and MarkAlleyne carried Gloucestershire home with an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 91. Dominic Hewson (45) and Ian Harvey (41) also made vitalcontributions after Kent - for whom Mark Ealham, on 49 not out, excelled with the bat - had totalled 199 for 6.

At Leicester, Aftab Habib hit 63 to see the Foxes home with more than eight overs to spare, after Lancashire had been restricted to 162 for 9.

Saurav Ganguly top-scored for Lightning with 58, but from 104 for 2 their challenge petered away, with Anil Kumble spinning his way to 3 for 29.

Warwickshire Bears'Second Division promotion hopes were dented by Durham Dynamoes, who secured a50-run win at Edgbaston.

Durham totalled 198 for 6, with Simon Katich (64) and Paul Collingwood (53) the chief contributors. Warwickshire, for whom Dougie Brown (30) top-scored, were always off the pace thanks to some tight Durham bowling led by Neil Killeen (three for 24).

Middlesex Crusaders moved into third place courtesy of a four-wicket defeat of Hampshire Hawks at Portsmouth.

Hampshire looked well set at 121 for 2 but eventually fell 10 runs short of the mark, with Robin Smith (42) top-scoring.

Peter Hartley picked up three Middlesex wickets for 41 runs, the visitors won through with Mike Roseberry (54) and Mark Ramprakash (46).

At Chelmsford, Derbyshire Scorpions, lost by six runs to Essex Eagles. Essex totalled 203 for eight, with StephenPeters (38) and Paul Grayson (37 not out) top-scoring and Tim Munton picking up threewickets for 24 for Scorpions.

Michael Di Venuto (18), Stephen Stubbings (24), James Pyemont (34) and Tom Lungley (15) threatened for Derbyshire but all perished to run-outs.

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