AS Durham prepare to begin their Twenty20 campaign tomorrow evening they managed to engineer a brief period of run-chasing drama at Hove yesterday.
But after Kumar Sangakkara got out for 159 with eight needed off two overs for the final batting point they were unable to complete the task and left themselves two runs short.
It was the only excitement on a sunny final day as the rain-ruined game against Sussex meandered to a fourth successive draw for Durham, who remain next to the bottom of division one.
Other than the timing of his exit, Sangakkara’s innings was a master class in every way. It was his highest score in England, beating the
149 he made on his debut for Warwickshire against Durham in 2007.
He will now join up with the Sri Lankans for one-day games at Canterbury tomorrow and Hove on Sunday before doing battle with England.
After taking the wicket which would have earned maximum bowling points three balls too late, it was rather careless of Durham to fall just short of the fifth batting point after Paul Collingwood’s dashing 74 off 78 balls had propelled them towards it.
Getting so close had looked unlikely when the new ball was taken with the total on 240 for four after 80 overs.
That meant 160 were needed off 30 to achieve the full house, but after doubling his scoring rate in racing to his third 50 off 55 balls Sangakkara holed out at deep mid-wicket off the first ball of the 109th over.
Tea was taken at that point and on the resumption Mark Wood took a single off the fifth ball then Phil Mustard, who had made 20, tried to hook the sixth and skied a catch to mid-off.
With seven needed, Wood and Usman Arshad scrambled four singles and a bye before Jimmy Anyon bowed the final ball well wide of off stump and Arshad failed to connect.
The Durham pair then batted out time against bowlers who even included wicketkeeper Ben Brown and the total was 451 for seven when hands were shaken.
Scott Borthwick fell in the day’s fourth over without addition to his
84 when he played back and edged a ball of low bounce from Anyon to Brown.
Sussex eventually turned to their part-time spinners, Ashar Zaidi, Luke Wells and Chris Nash.
A lofted straight drive by Sangakkara off Zaidi fell just short of the rope then a glorious cover drive off Jon Lewis took him to his 116-ball half-century with his eighth four.
Michael Richardson made 15 before falling to Wells’ sixth ball, playing back to the off-spinner and being adjudged lbw. He appeared to think he had nicked it on to his pad.
Collingwood made his way steadily to 20 at lunch and the acceleration began with ten coming off Anyon’s opening over with the new ball.
Sangakkara failed to connect with a drive at Magoffin on 98 but then clipped him for two through mid-wicket to complete his 47th first-class century off 202 balls.
Collingwood was on 27 when he really began to go for his shots, racing to his half-century in the next two overs.
It began with a top-edged pull over the slips for four off Magoffin, followed by a delicate dab to third man for three.
Two boundaries followed in Anyon’s next over then a powerful cut for four off Magoffin took the captain to 50.
Sangakkara survived a run-out chance on 115 before picking up Luke Wright over square leg for six, then Collingwood clobbered the flat left-arm spin of Zaidi over the rope at cow corner.
Off the next ball he tried to clear long-off but miscued a simple catch to Lewis and the run rate dropped while Mustard settled in.
Sangakkara appeared to have everything under control. With 56 needed off ten overs he bagged the fourth batting point by smashing Zaidi high over the short mid-wicket boundary.
The next time he tried to clear it the ball landed in the hands of Matt Machan and what appeared to have become a stroll to the fifth point turned into a forlorn scramble.
Sussex v Durham
Overnight: Sussex 505-9 dec (L J Wright 189, B C Brown 163; C Rushworth4-124).
Durham 137-2 (S G Borthwick 84 no).
Durham First Innings
S G Borthwick c B C Brown b Anyon...84
K C Sangakkara c Machan b Magoffin159
M J Richardson lbw b Wells...................... 15
P Collingwood c Lewis b Ashar Zaidi....74
P Mustard c Wells b Magoffin..................20
M A Wood not out.........................................20
Arshad not out ...............................................38
Extras (b7 lb12 nb8 pens 0)27
Total 7 wkts (125 overs)...451
Fall: 1-3 2-34 3-144 4-188 5-332 6-392 7-393
Did Not Bat: G Onions, C Rushworth.
Total Bonus Pts: Sussex 7 Durham 6 Magoffin 31-7-84-2. Anyon 25-2-111-2. Lewis 22-4-71-0. L J Wright 7-0-32-0. Nash 11-1-30-0. Ashar Zaidi 12-1-53-1. Wells 13-1-37-1. B C Brown 4-1-14-0.
Sussex (12pts) drew with Durham (11pts)