Borthwick sees Durham home
Durham 339 (Hastings 72, Shahzad 4-72) and 263 for 4 (Borthwick 97*, Shahzad 4-86) beat Sussex 335 (Robinson 110, Hobden 64*) and 265 (Machan 80, Rushworth 5-81) by six wickets
Scott Borthwick might still insist that he sees himself as a legspinner first and foremost, but his batting continues to make an impact. It was his unbeaten 97 which ensured that there were no twists on the final day of an eventful match at Chester-le-Street which Durham won to go second in the Division One table with the league's only unblemished record, five points behind leaders Sussex with a game in hand.
Needing 147 on the final day to win, Borthwick took the responsibility of seeing his side home for the second time this season, following his unbeaten fifty against Somerset in the first game.
Borthwick had a conversation with Paul Collingwood about getting to his hundred and waved it aside in peremptory fashion. "We needed 11 to win and Colly said to me 'do you want to get your hundred?' I said of course, but there is no point messing around, if it is there to hit, just hit it for four. He did that and it was nice to get over the line."
After a tentative start by Borthwick and Michael Richardson, Ajmal Shahzad struck early as he struck Richardson's leg stump in the fourth over of the day. Shahzad's early-season form at his new county meant he started the day top of the PCA's MVP list, but on a pitch was still offering something for the bowlers, Borthwick and Calum MacLeod batted sensibly for the first hour, before accelerating close to lunch.
"Runs weren't that important in the first session," Borthwick said. "We knew that if we batted long enough runs would come and that's what we did."
MacLeod was out on the stroke of lunch but not before he compiled a curious 26, which included five fours and took 75 balls. He took 25 balls to get off the mark, but one glorious cover drive off Matthew Hobden and he was away. After starting like he wanted to bat through till the end of the day, he perished trying to accelerate, caught at third man off Shahzad.
In between, there were a couple of scares, both from Hobden's bowling. First was an edge that should have been taken at first slip by Ed Joyce, but instead went between both him and Ben Brown. The second fell just short of second slip and raced to the boundary.
After his dismissal, Collingwood came in and kept things solid until lunch before making light work of the chase and finishing unbeaten on 35.
Although both sides bowled well at times, the difference was the pressure the hosts managed to exert throughout their innings. Shahzad finished with four wickets in both innings and ending the match the Division's leading wicket taker with 22 scalps, but a lack of support hurt Sussex's hopes of making it three wins out of three.
Despite making it a dream debut with the bat in the first innings, when he scored his maiden first-class hundred, there was no fairy tale finish for Robinson, who went wicketless in the fourth innings and conceded the winning runs off Borthwick's bat. Both sides are up against Middlesex in their next game. While Durham head to Lord's next week looking to keep their winning start going, Sussex host them in two weeks' time as they look to get back to winning ways.