MICHAEL RICHARDSON’S fourth century in his last ten championship matches and a career-best 46 by Chris Rushworth underlined that Durham really ought to have done better in being dismissed for 326 at Taunton yesterday.
There was also an innings of 97 from Mark Stoneman, but after his stand of 161 with Richardson ended the middle order folded meekly on a perfect day for batting.
Scott Borthwick bravely defied what has been described as a flaked fracture on the index finger of his right hand to bat at No 11, but hopes that he might bowl Durham to victory today have vanished.
Rain is expected this morning but Durham left Somerset with 23 overs to bat last evening and they began their pursuit of 248 to win by racing to 112 without loss.
Ben Stokes continued his comeback by scoring 47 off 23 balls and taking four for 23 in the first of the two second X1 T20 games against Derbyshire at Brandon.
So he can be expected to replace either Gordon Muchall or Jamie Harrison at Trent Bridge on Sunday, depending on how much Durham want him to bowl.
Muchall failed to take his chance when elevated to No 4 yesterday, being dismissed for 14.
For the second time in the match he rather carelessly allowed himself to be snared by left-arm spinner George Dockrell when he was surprised by the bounce and cut to backward point.
Surprisingly, Durham’s chief tormentor this time was Craig Overton with the first five-wicket haul of his career.
He is not as quick as his twin, Jamie, but bowls with more control, although it was a poor ball which earned his first wicket and ended the excellent second-wicket stand of 161.
The addition of only 51 runs in the first 21 overs indicated that no risks were to be taken, even though glorious weather helped to restore most of the customary benign nature to the Taunton track.
Opening up finally proved Stoneman’s downfall as he had just pulled Overton for six and driven him for two when he attempted to hook a leg-side bouncer and gloved a catch to the diving Craig Kieswetter.
After pulling two sixes in reaching 57 the previous evening, Richardson went sedately to his hundred off 202 balls with his tenth four, a thick edge wide of the slips off Alfonso Thomas. It was a slightly streaky shot, but generally he confirmed the impression that he has become a reassuringly solid presence in the middle order.
Shortly afterwards he hooked Peter Trego, who ran across to give him a lengthy earful. It was not a pretty sight.
In an impressive second spell, Overton almost earned a return catch off a leading edge from Richardson on 116, but the next ball claimed the scalp when it cut back and the batsman got an inside edge into his stumps.
Phil Mustard continued his disappointing run by falling to a bat-pad catch at short leg off Dockrell after scoring ten.
Then when the new ball was taken Paul Collingwood sliced a drive to backward point off Trego to depart for three.
Mark Wood and Harrison fell to edged catches off successive balls from Overton, but debut boy Ryan Pringle stood firm for 20 overs to make 17 before he played across the line and was lbw.
Rushworth, with a previous best of 28, went for his shots and scored his 46 off 48 balls with six fours and a six off Dockrell.
In attempting to sweep the spinner for another maximum, he had the misfortune to be brilliantly caught on the square leg boundary by the macho man, Trego, who celebrated with customary swagger.
Durham had needed to use up as much time as possible after tea, denying Somerset use of the good conditions.
But from the moment Marcus Trescothick atoned for his golden duck in the first innings by clipping the first ball to the square leg boundary it was entirely predictable that they would make deep inroads into the target.
Trescothick featured some murderous pulls in front of mid-wicket in his unbeaten 58 and took 14 off an over from Wood.
Johann Myburgh also cashed in, reaching 48, and Somerset will be confident of completing the task if the weather allows them 25 overs today.
Overnight: Somerset 234 (A N Petersen
78; M A Wood 5-37, C Rushworth4-70).
Durham 155 (S G Borthwick 59; A C
Thomas 5-41) and 121-1 (M DStoneman
60 no, M J Richardson 57 no).
Durham Second Innings
M D Stoneman c Kieswetter b C Overton.. 97
M J Richardson b C Overton ............. 116
G J Muchall c Hildreth b Dockrell ...... 14
P Mustard c Trescothick b Dockrell... 10
P D Collingwood c Dockrell b Trego... 3
R D Pringle lbw b C Overton............... 17
M A Wood c Kieswetter b C Overton.. 2
J Harrison c Hildreth b C Overton........ 0
C Rushworth c Trego b Dockrell ........46
S G Borthwick not out ............................ 0
Extras (b4 lb10 nb4 pens 0)18
Total (111.3 overs) ............ 326
Fall: 1-19 2-180 3-205 4-225 5-241
6-265 7-275 8-275 9-310
Bowling: Thomas 22-7-46-1. Trego 19-
2-47-1. C Overton 21-6-63-5. J Overton
11-0-48-0. Dockrell 30.3-3-82-3.
Somerset Second Innings Close
M E Trescothick not out........................58
J G Myburgh not out ..............................48
Extras (b4 lb2 pens 0).......... 6
Total 0 wkts (23 overs) .....112
To Bat: A N Petersen, N R D Compton, J
C Hildreth, C Kieswetter, C
Bowling: Overton, P D Trego, A C
Thomas, G H Dockrell, J Overton.
Rushworth 8-2-35-0. Harrison 5-0-26-0.
Wood 4-0-22-0. Pringle 6-1-23-0.