Durham dig in for final day chase
Durham 237 and 58 for 2 v Lancashire 181 and 226
Durham made a solid start to their pursuit of 171 to beat Lancashire at Old Trafford today. Michael Di Venuto played a crucial and steadying hand with 34 not out off 40 balls as his side reached 58 for 2 from 21 overs at close on day three of this County Championship match. Gary Keedy's left-arm spin had removed both Mark Stoneman and Gordon Muchall but Durham require another 113 runs to clinch their fourth championship win of the season.
Lancashire had been able to muster a second-innings score of only 226 all out thanks in the main to half-centuries for Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Mark Chilton, announced as the club's 2011 beneficiary earlier in the day. Although the pitch is still tough to bat on it did not seem anywhere near as treacherous as it had done on day two when 18 wickets fell.
Durham left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell took his time to settle, perhaps due to the cold and damp conditions. But, having taken five wickets in the first innings, he still finished as the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 102 from 33 overs. Leg-spinner Scott Borthwick also finished with 2 for 33 from 11 while Steve Harmison, Mitch Claydon and Liam Plunkett also struck.
Despite the fact that the Red Rose, who started this match fourth in Division One, had given themselves something to bowl at they would have been disappointed to lose their last five wickets for 32 runs. They were also hamstrung by an injury to Sajid Mahmood, which was later revealed to be a back spasm, which meant that he could not take the new ball.
Chilton, who scored 50 off 129 balls, had earlier shared a third-wicket partnership of 56 with nightwatchman Keedy (24) to get Lancashire going. He also shared 41 for the fourth wicket with Chanderpaul before the latter added 57 with Steven Croft (28) for the fifth.
Chanderpaul hit sixes over midwicket and long-on off Blackwell. But, when he was bowled trying to cut Blackwell for 67 off 136 balls with the last ball of the afternoon session, it started the home collapse. Gareth Cross was trapped lbw by Blackwell, Luke Sutton lbw by Plunkett, Mahmood - batting with Paul Horton as his runner - caught behind by Phil Mustard off Blackwell for a duck and Glen Chapple run out by Borthwick.
Durham had reached 22 for none after five overs of their chase when Keedy was brought into the attack and he bowled Stoneman off an inside edge in the 10th over with only another five runs added to the total. He later had Muchall caught at first slip by Horton for three to leave the score at 43 for 2 in the 16th.
Whether a first defeat in 21 Championship matches - dating back to last June - would signal an end to Lancashire's title chances is questionable. But Durham, who were second bottom before the match, will leapfrog them in the standings with a win.