Durham v Yorkshire, Chester-le-Street, 2nd day August 17, 2010

McGrath stars in enthralling battle

Durham 213 and 207 for 6 v Yorkshire 255

Anthony McGrath made a superb century for Yorkshire as their Championship clash with Durham remained finely balanced. The home side closed on 207 for 6 in their second innings at Chester-le-Street, leading by 165, after Yorkshire had earlier advanced from their overnight 125 for 7 to reach 255.

Former England batsman McGrath went from 28 to 124 not out before running out of partners, as Yorkshire eked out a lead of 42. Durham then looked to be taking command in their second innings when they reached 134 for 1, only for five wickets to go down for 43 runs. Dale Benkenstein grafted for 35 not out to help Durham reach the close without any further losses.

After 17 wickets fell on the first day, the batsmen fared considerably better today and Mark Stoneman's 78, his best Championship score for three years, allowed the home side to pile on the runs in their second innings. Only four wickets fell in the day's first 70 overs, but the end of the 84-run partnership for Durham's second wicket sparked a flurry of dismissals.

Stoneman's fluent 78 contained 15 fours, but he edged Patterson to Gerard Brophy almost immediately after Gordon Muchall's off stump was sent flying by Ajmal Shahzad. Muchall had made 31.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby went on to take three wickets as he stood in for Tim Bresnan, who was on England duty. Bresnan is expected back at the ground at some stage tomorrow, providing England decide they will not require his services at The Oval for the third Test against Pakistan.

Hannon-Dalby struck in his second over when he pinned Michael Di Venuto lbw for 18 and later had Ian Blackwell and Phil Mustard caught in the slips, both driving loosely. Benkenstein almost played on against Steve Patterson on five and the same bowler found steep bounce to have Ben Stokes held at second slip.

Unexpected morning sunshine had earlier worked in McGrath's favour as he was rewarded for his diligence in reaching 28 off 85 balls overnight. Yorkshire's last three batsmen survived for 34 overs to add 130 runs, of which McGrath scored 96 himself off 108 balls.

He hit 20 fours and a six in his innings, mostly from imperious drives, and can rarely have batted better. The back-foot four through the covers off Chris Rushworth which took him to his century was followed by on and off drives as McGrath hit three successive balls to the boundary for the second time.

He had handed the same treatment to Steve Harmison in the day's third over, when a cover drive was followed by two pulls. Liam Plunkett had Rich Pyrah lbw to make it 143 for 8, but Ajmal Shahzad followed his career-best bowling by providing staunch support with the bat.

He made 15 before he was caught behind with Yorkshire still four behind on 209. McGrath was on 85 at the time but raced to his hundred and then blasted quick runs.