Evenly poised

THINGS did not go entirely to plan for Durham on the final morning as their five remaining wickets went down for the addition of 66 runs in 90 minutes.

But a target of 319 in 69 overs was not too far short of what they would have wanted to set Northamptonshire, who reached 27 without loss in six overs before lunch.

Already 252 behind when Durham resumed on 178 for five, Northants set a defensive field and bowled the experienced Andrew Hall throughout at one end.

Maurice Chambers was given a few overs, forcing Michael Richardson to play on for 59, before off-spinner James Middlebrook took over and finished with five for 62.

All went well for the first three overs as Richardson cut Chambers for four, but in trying another forcing back-foot shot he chopped the ball into his stumps.

Usman Arshad, doubtless under orders not to throw his wicket away, then curbed his natural instincts by scoring 17 off 61 balls as he and Gareth Breese carefully put on 42 in 17 overs.

Breese began to show some urgency when he turned Middlebrook towards the long backward square leg boundary and scampered an all-run four.

But after making 34 he pushed forward and was lbw to Hall, then Arshad went down the pitch to Middlebrook and was stumped.

Graham Onions seemed to see little point in hanging around as he drove a return catch to Hall and the last four wickets had gone down for 13 when the same bowler had Chris Rushworth caught behind.

The only encouragement for Durham’s new ball bowlers came in the fifth over when Stephen Peters gloved a lifter from Onions over the slips for four.

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