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July 23, 2011
Durham 220 and 209 for 1 (f/o) v Somerset 480
Alfonso Thomas marked his first County Championship appearance of the season with 4 for 62 as Durham were forced to follow-on by Somerset at Taunton.
Starting the day on 150 for two in reply to 480, the Division One leaders were bowled out for 220, Will Smith top-scoring with 74 and the last five wickets falling for 19 runs. But it was a different story when Durham batted again, Michael Di Venuto (91) and Smith (102 not out) putting together a stand of 202 for the first wicket as they closed on 209 for one, just 51 behind.
Thomas missed the start of the season through his involvement in the Indian Premier League and then suffered a torn hamstring in a Friends Life t20 game.
He produced an inspired eight-over spell of four for 30 from the River End, sending back Dale Benkenstein, Phil Mustard, Ian Blackwell and Mitchell Claydon for a combined contribution of just 35 runs with some nippy seam bowling.
Murali Kartik (two for 46) pinned Smith lbw after he had faced 194 balls and hit 12 fours. The left-arm spinner also accounted for Callum Thorp and look set to pose the biggest threat to Durham when they followed on 260 behind.
But Di Venuto and Smith had other ideas. After enjoying some good fortune against the new ball, the pair looked increasingly at ease in the warm sunshine.
Di Venuto was first to his half-century off 72 balls, with six fours, as the partnership reached 116 by the tea interval. Smith, who had been dropped by Kartik at second slip off Peter Trego on 45, then followed his partner to fifty off 106 deliveries, also with six fours and a pulled six over square leg off Thomas.
Steve Kirby, who had bowled with venom before lunch, we under used by skipper Marcus Trescothick and there was a big cheer from the crowd when he was brought back for only his sixth over of the innings when 58 had been bowled.
Sure enough the fiery paceman struck in only the second over of his spell as Di Venuto cut at a wide one and was well caught above his head by James Hildreth at first slip. First-innings hero Thomas was given only five overs and the rest of Somerset's attack lacked any threat in excellent batting conditions.
Di Venuto and Smith had brought up their double century stand in the 59th over and it was then only a question of whether they would reach individual hundreds before the close. Smith got there in the final over, having faced 199 balls and hit a six and 14 fours, making Kartik's dropped catch look very expensive.
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