DURHAM face the twin threat of spin and thunderstorms as they attempt to score a further 246 runs to beat Derbyshire at Chesterfield today.

They began their pursuit of 282 by reaching 36 without loss in 17 overs, of which five were delivered by Imran Tahir and Hamidullah Qadri.

While Cameron Steel dug in to reach seven, Michael Richardson again played well in his new role, stroking several classy cover drives in his unbeaten 29.

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While there has been variable bounce throughout, it appears not to have worsened in what has been an excellent advert for outground cricket. Nor was there much turn for Ryan Pringle yesterday, although Tahir is more likely to find some.

Much will depend on whether the storm predicted for 9am actually hits the ground. The next one is not due until late afternoon, by which time it could be all over.

Pringle said: “It will be a good day's cricket with men around the bat. They went into the match with three spinners and there are some footmarks for them to bowl into.

“It will be a challenge, but we are confident we can chase it down. Imran took five in the first innings but we didn't play him badly.”

For the second time in the match Durham were on the receiving end of a century by a little-known batsman as 25-year-old Alex Hughes made 108 in Derbyshire's second innings total of 214.

It was only the third hundred of the Staffordshire-born right-hander's career and began with a streaky four off Paul Coughlin, which just evaded gully.

But when Coughlin and the equally excellent Chris Rushworth were rested, Hughes settled and was rarely troubled as he shared a crucial stand of 59 with Luis Reece after Derbyshire had slipped to 31 for three.

Hughes and first innings century-maker Matt Critchley then looked very comfortable as things went very flat for Durham on a pleasant afternoon prior to a burst of three wickets in eight balls.

Critchley, again impressive in reaching 28, followed a poor ball from Barry McCarthy down the leg side and Stuart Poynter dived to hold a fine catch.

Two balls later Daryn Smit edged low to Paul Collingwood and in the next over Tony Palladino looked nonplussed to be adjudged caught behind off Pringle.

At 147 for seven Durham needed to wrap it up quickly, but the pressure was relieved when Pringle bowled a long hop, which Hughes pulled for a big six.

After his unbeaten 48 in the first innings at No 11, Gurjit Sandhu was promoted to nine and helped Hughes to add 47 before Matthew Potts knocked out his off stump.

He also rattled Tahir's timber with a full-length in-swinger, but with nine wickets down an over from Pringle cost 14, Hughes sweeping him for his 15th four to complete his hundred off 146 balls. He was out for 108 when he tried a big hit off Pringle and was lbw.

With five bowlers taking two wickets each, the outstanding feature of Durham's day was the fielding in the deep, particularly by Jack Burnham.

Coughlin's pace across the ground, and enthusiasm, saw him swoop to cover to attempt a run out off his own bowling and after his unbeaten 73 the highlight of his day would be sending Billy Godleman's off stump flying.

Already a villain in Durham's eyes for not walking in the first innings, Godleman survived a concerted appeal for caught behind on one, clearly incensing the bowler.

Coughlin ramped up the pace and the home skipper was sent packing in spectacular style.

On an overcast morning the left-arm swingers of Gurjit Sandhu earned two lbw verdicts to polish off Durham for 301. There was a run-out and nine wickets for players of Asian origin.

Six overs of spin at the start had allowed the ninth-wicket stand to progress to 90 but in the second over with the new ball Sandhu removed McCarthy for 39.

It struck him a little high for a cast-iron decision, but there could be no doubt when another in-swinger pinned Rushworth in front.