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Lions skipper Jennings ends lean run

Durham 270 for 4 (Jennings 87, Cook 64) trail Gloucestershire 303 (Tavare 61, Dent 59) by 33 runs
Scorecard

Keaton Jennings gave the England selectors a timely nudge as Durham enjoyed the upper hand against Gloucestershire on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two match at Bristol.

Although he missed out on a second successive hundred, the left-handed opener top-scored with 87 as Durham, replying to the home side's first-innings 303, reached the close on 270-4.

Gloucestershire's bowlers staged a mini-revival in the final session, but the visitors trail by 33 runs and, with ? wickets in hand, are still handily-placed to forge a meaningful lead lead and apply pressure on the third day.

In need of reassurance in the wake of heavy defeat at the hands of Nottinghamshire, Durham's top-order batting restored lost pride against a Gloucestershire attack that lacked penetration on an essentially true pitch.

Eager to further press his international credentials after registering a hundred on debut for England against India in the fourth Test in Mumbai in December, Jennings took centre stage, sharing in a progressive opening stand of 114 in 32.3 overs with Stephen Cook.

South Africa opener Cook appeared supremely secure in raising 50 from 80 balls and a hundred appeared to be his for the taking when he inexplicably lost concentration and, pursuing a delivery outside off stump from Chris Liddle, edged to Cameron Bancroft at first slip.

Demonstrating sound temperament and technique, Jennings carried on regardless, ruthlessly exploiting Greame van Buuren's slow left arm spin and punishing anything short or wide from seam bowlers who lacked consistency.

Intent upon earning a place in the England squad for this summer's Test series against South Africa, the 24-year-old has improved his defensive game, and it came as a surprise when he succumbed 13 runs short of what would have been his second hundred of the season.

Last year's top run-scorer in Championship cricket and the Cricket Writers Club's player of 2016 was undone by a Liddle delivery that left him and was held by wicketkeeper and former Durham team-mate Phil Mustard via the finest of thin edges. He may have missed out on three figures, but his early-season form will surely not go unnoticed at Lord's.

Losing their momentum thereafter, Durham slipped from the giddy heights of 183-1 to 214-4, Graham Clark and Cameron Steel falling to Craig Miles in quick succession as the home side fought back after tea.

Charged with the task of repairing the damage, experienced campaigners Paul Collingwood (28 not out) and Michael Richardson (25 not out) displayed a clear understanding of what was required in staging a restorative unbroken partnership of 57 for the fifth wicket as Gloucestershire's bowlers sought atonement for their earlier shortcomings by applying belated pressure. Watchful in the extreme, these two safely negotiated 24 overs, eight of them against the new ball, to reach stumps without further mishap.

Finally afforded an opportunity after a blank first season on the county staff, former Sussex paceman Liddle adhered to the tenets of line and length without luck, proving the most consistent of Gloucestershire's front-line bowlers.

Durham's seamers made good use of the new ball to mop up the last three wickets for 38 runs in 15.2 overs after Gloucestershire had resumed their first innings on 265-7.

Jack Taylor and David Payne added 36 for the eighth wicket, but once the former edged Rushworth to second slip three runs short of a half century, the innings unraveled rapidly.

No sooner had Gloucestershire banked a third batting bonus point, than fellow England bowlers Mark Wood and Graham Onions took care of business, removing Payne and last man Liddle in quick succession