Durham reignite Championship challenge
Durham 237 and 173 for 4 beat Lancashire 181 and 226 by four wickets
Durham dragged themselves back into the County Championship title race with an impressive win against rivals Lancashire on the final day at Old Trafford. Chasing 171 for their fourth win of the season, the reigning champions started day four on 58 for 2, needing another 113 runs.
Veteran Australian left-hander Michael Di Venuto passed 50 for their seventh time this season to help his side clinch a six-wicket win, sealed just after lunch. Di Venuto fell before the break for 63 off 123 balls but Dale Benkenstein finished with a calming, unbeaten 41 off 119 balls.
Durham have now gone three points clear of Lancashire in the Division One table, both teams having five matches still to play. Phil Mustard's side are 27 points behind leaders Nottinghamshire and Lancashire 30 points adrift, having lost their first match in 21 fixtures.
Durham's next three matches are at home to Yorkshire, away to Somerset and at home to Notts, all three teams being above them in the standings. Lancashire still have Notts to play twice and also travel to Somerset.
It was pretty obvious that Glen Chapple would start the day by bowling left-arm spinners Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan in tandem and the visitors had added 22 runs to their overnight score when the latter bowled nightwatchman Mitch Claydon for eight in the 12th over of the morning.
Keedy, who took seven wickets in the first innings, was causing problems and had a couple of lbw shouts turned down against Di Venuto. But the opener prodded and poked at balls that turned sharply out of the rough outside his off-stump to bring up 50 off 103 balls.
Benkenstein had got himself going just beforehand with a punched four off Kerrigan through wide mid-on. He also did similar to Keedy in the next over, the 40th, to move Durham up to 101 for 3. Benkenstein survived a run-out chance on 16 when Steven Croft missed the stumps at the non-striker's end.
Sajid Mahmood failed to take the field for Lancashire due to a back spasm but as the hosts declined to turn to seam bowling until the game was virtually done and dusted, it was not a major loss for the hosts. Keedy then claimed his 10th wicket of the match - a feat he has now achieved six times in his career - when he had Di Venuto brilliantly caught by a diving Croft at mid-wicket to leave the score at 132 for four.
Ian Blackwell (20 not out) survived a dropped catch first ball by Mark Chilton at short-leg off Keedy and the visitors needed 29 more after lunch. Paul Horton also spilled a tough chance at slip off the bat of Benkenstein on 36 with the visitors needing 10. That proved to be Lancashire's last chance. Keedy (3for 60 from 32 overs) finished with match figures of 10 for 128.