Durham close in on victory despite fightback
Worcestershire 217 and 271 for 5 v Durham 587 for 7 dec
Half-centuries by Vikram Solanki and Moeen Ali kept Durham waiting for victory in the County Championship clash with Division One strugglers Worcestershire at New Road. Following on 370 behind after losing their last four first-innings wickets before lunch, the home side showed more application as they took the game into a fourth day by making 271 for 5 at the second attempt.
Steve Harmison claimed 4 for 67 in Worcestershire's initial dismissal for 217, but Durham were careful to use the former England fast bowler sparingly in his first match since breaking an arm in the season's opening fixture against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
His morning stint was a shade costly as he bowled to attacking field settings and his one success came when Gareth Andrew gave a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard after hitting six fours in a brisk 27. It was left to Ben Stokes and Ruel Braithwaite to clear up lingering resistance from Ben Scott (37) and Damien Wright (27), who clouted 13 boundaries between them and took only seven overs to put on 51.
Overnight batsman Adrian Shankar was forced to retire after a mishap during Worcestershire's early-morning fielding drills. Reaching down to pick up a ball, the former Lancashire Second XI batsman collapsed in pain with a knee injury. He was carried off on a stretcher and he went to hospital for x-rays and will be sent for a scan on Monday.
Worcestershire made better progress in their second innings, negotiating three overs from Harmison before lunch and then pressing on when he was rested throughout out the afternoon session. New opening pair James Cameron (20) and Matt Pardoe (38) completed their second half-century stand in four innings and then fell to Ian Blackwell during a prolonged spell by the left-arm spinner.
Both were caught close to the wicket but Michael Di Venuto, having held a chance from Cameron, later dropped Solanki at second slip when the former England one-day opener had made only 12. It proved to a costly miss as Solanki found his best form with 10 boundaries in making 58 from 78 balls - his third half-century in the championship since giving up the captaincy last August.
The appearance of Harmison after tea secured the breakthrough that Durham needed when he hit the stumps twice in a seven-over spell. His ninth delivery zipped past another flashing drive by Solanki and Alexei Kervezee was also trying to force the pace when he played on.
Moeen played equally well with a dozen fours in a stylish 63 but all of the front-line batting had gone when he was caught behind the wicket off Stokes. Any danger of a defeat in three days was averted when Andrew (33 not out) and Scott (30 not out) held up Durham for a second time with an unbroken partnership of 55.