Durham v Hampshire, Chester-le-Street, 2nd day April 22, 2010

Blackwell tilts the balance

Durham 284 for 5 v Hampshire 345

Hampshire paid the penalty for allowing Ian Blackwell a comfortable start as his innings of 83 tilted an evenly-balanced contest in Durham's favour at the Riverside.

Blackwell hit the fourth ball he faced over midwicket for six as he blazed to 36 off 21 balls, and he had Durham's deficit down to 73 when he was out two overs from the close.

A powerful pull off Kabir Ali went straight to Jimmy Adams, who clung onto a juggling catch at square leg as Durham ended the day on 284 for 5. Blackwell settled down after surviving a return chance on 36 to 18-year-old Danny Briggs, who had removed both openers with his left-arm spin and was left on for 23 overs.

He took some heavy punishment in his last two overs as his England Under-19 colleague Ben Stokes drove him for a straight six and Blackwell followed up with a huge one over square leg. When Durham lost Dale Benkenstein in the over before tea they had slipped from 108 without loss to 146 for 3 in reply to 345.

But Blackwell's 50 stand with Will Smith came up in 38 balls, even though the Durham skipper continued to look out of touch. He was dropped twice in the slips by Chris Benham and Adams before Sean Ervine pinned him lbw for 28.

With Kabir Ali and left-armer James Tomlinson finding the bright, chilly conditions unsuited to swing, they failed to trouble the Durham openers. Briggs made the breakthrough when he turned one past Kyle Coetzer's defensive push with the Scot on 47, but the spinner looked fortunate to gain an lbw verdict against Michael Di Venuto (71).

Benkenstein opened up confidently with two cuts for four off Briggs but fell for 10 when he tried to flip a short ball from Griffiths behind square and got a bottom edge into his stumps. Blackwell throttled back after being dropped, reaching 50 off 55 balls, while Stokes took seven overs to get off the mark but then struck the ball powerfully and remained unbeaten on 28.

When Hampshire resumed on 298 for 8 in the morning it took only two overs for Mitch Claydon to capture the wicket of Kabir, who was caught down the leg side by Phil Mustard.

But the final pair were allowed to add 36 as Briggs pulled Claydon for two fours and a six in one over on his way to 28 before Liam Plunkett had him caught behind to finish with 4 for 103.