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Durham set up for a thrilling title chase finale
AFTER deserved celebrations following four full days of energy-sapping cricket at Scarborough, Durham will be glad to have a refreshed Graham Onions back at home to Sussex tomorrow.
The selection dilemma has been eased by Mark Wood's side injury and the fact that he couldn't bowl in the second innings made the seven-wicket win against Yorkshire all the more remarkable.
Left to score 121 in 37 overs when Yorkshire were all out for 419, Durham took a huge stride towards their third County Championship title in six seasons as they got home with 9.2 overs to spare.
The gap is down to 5.5 points and Durham should move to the top this week as Yorkshire are idle.
After that Durham play Derbyshire and Sussex away and Nottinghamshire at home, while Yorkshire's remaining three games are away to Sussex and Surrey and at home to Middlesex.
Durham skipper Paul Collingwood said: "It couldn't have gone any better. Hats off to everyone who keeps on putting in big performances.
"I have to keep pinching myself after a game like that. I sound like a broken record but every time there's a chance to win the game, the boys do it at the right time.
"To bowl them out for 270 in the first innings on a pitch like that and with an outfield like a billiard table was pretty much the reason we won the game."
It was Yorkshire's second defeat in 31 championship games but coach Jason Gillespie said: "We were thoroughly outplayed in all departments.
"Full credit to Durham - they handled the pressure situations better than us."
Third-placed Sussex still have a big part to play, but they are 23.5 points behind Durham after adopting a negative approach on Saturday, when they batted on for a draw rather than take the chance to set Warwickshire a target.
If Ben Stokes was the man of the match, Saturday's star was Scott Borthwick in a contest in which every Durham player contributed but five or six Yorkshiremen fell below expectations.
Borthwick must have been wondering how on earth he had been unlucky enough to find himself with figures of none for 134 at a time when victory seemed to be slipping away.
But he took the last three wickets without conceding a run and after going in to face the second ball of Durham's run chase he took them almost to the line by making a dashing 65.
There was the possibility of a sting in the tail when Mark Stoneman edged Ryan Sidebottom's first ball to third slip, but Borthwick settled any nerves by taking two fours off the rest of the over.
With the help of a four through the slips off Sidebottom, Borthwick scored his first 20 runs in boundaries and Durham had 30 on the board after six overs.
The next six produced only seven runs and Keaton Jennings was dropped at second slip by Gary Ballance off Steve Patterson.
But Borthwick got the score moving again and when Yorkshire gambled by bringing on Adil Rashid his fellow leg-spinner pulled him for four and six. He reached 50 in 61 balls and only 49 were needed when Jennings was caught at short square leg by Phil Jaques off Rashid for 17.
The target was down to 18 when Borthwick went down the pitch to Rashid and was bowled.
Will Smith scored an unbeaten 27 off 25 balls as Rashid conceded 47 in seven overs and Stokes brought the scores level by hitting Kane Williamson for six then followed up with a four to the sound of resounding cheers from his team-mates.
For Yorkshire, Williamson, Jaques and Jonny Bairstow scored significant runs, while Sidebottom and Patterson bowled well.
The rest under-achieved, although Liam Plunkett almost atoned for bowling poorly by scoring 42 in the second innings.
He took 12 off a Borthwick over towards the end of an eighth-wicket stand of 53 in 19 overs with Sidebottom, but Collingwood was rewarded for persevering with the leg-spinner.
Sidebottom was caught off bat and pad, then Plunkett and last man Jack Brooks edged to the slips.
Yorkshire had resisted longer than looked likely when Rashid drove recklessly at the first ball after lunch and fell to a brilliant catch by Jennings at wide mid-on off Chris Rushworth.
Then Stokes had Ballance caught behind for an unconvincing 26, giving him a third wicket after he removed both overnight batsmen. William-son sliced to gully for 97 and Jaques added only one to his overnight 151 before he edged a beauty to Phil Mustard.
Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale, who totalled 17 in the match, edged Jamie Harrison to third slip off the first delivery with the new ball.
The catcher was Michael Richardson, who also clung on to a low chance when deliberately posted at short mid-wicket for Bairstow. That was another well-deserved wicket for Rushworth.
With a Yorkshire win out of the question, the crowd was down to 2,500 on the final day, but an overall attendance of almost 19,000 confirmed that the Scarborough Festival is alive and kicking.
Played in good weather with no interruptions, the match between the best two teams in the championship was a terrific advert for four-day cricket.
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