DURHAM'S big day came to a sorry, soggy end last night as rain ruined the one-day international between England and India.

After Sachin Tendulkar's first limited-overs hundred against England had taken the visitors to an imposing 285 for four, the weather intervened shortly after the hosts began their reply.

Just 12.3 overs were possible before play was ended by heavy rain, with England on 53 for one after the dismissal of Marcus Trescothick for a quickfire 23.

The no result meant both sides received two points to leave them on the cusp of the NatWest Series final.

But that was of little comfort to the near-capacity crowd of around 16,000 who shoehorned into Chester-le-Street and created a carnival atmosphere until the heavens opened.

Umpires David Shepherd and Dave Orchard called off play for rain three times.

On the first occasion, India captain Sourav Ganguly successfully remonstrated with the officials, who had to tell Nasser Hussain and Nick Knight to return to the wicket when they were 40 yards away and en route to the pavilion.

Then, the players departed for 12 minutes at 7.37pm as the drizzle became more steady.

When play got underway again, the rain appeared to be even heavier than when they first left, and three balls later the umpires called a halt.

It was a depressingly sad conclusion to what had been a glorious day for North-East cricket until the weather intervened.

In the end, a colourful kaleidoscope of umbrellas shone through the evening gloom as rain washed away fans' hopes of a grandstand finish.

Hussain said: "The umpires tried to get us back on twice but the second time the rain had clearly set in.

"When a side gets 285, you're up against it and I'd be lying if I said they weren't the favourites at that stage. But we've got a long batting line-up and we just needed two special innings like they had."

Tendulkar's 32nd one-day international century, 13 more than his nearest rival, Pakistan's Saeed Anwar, was the bedrock of India's total after they had been in some trouble at 52 for three.

Ganguly was dismissed by the first ball of the game, Darren Gough trapping him lbw to give England the ideal start against a side who beat them by six wickets at Lord's on Saturday.

Virender Sehwag, billed in India as the new Tendulkar, took a liking to James Kirtley but eventually perished to the Sussex paceman.

Sehwag attempted one big shot too many off Kirtley and succeeded only in chipping the ball to Trescothick at wide mid-on.

It was the final delivery of Kirtley's first spell, having conceded 29 overs in four expensive overs.

Gough, by contrast, tied down the Indians, belying his lack of match fitness with an accurate, probing burst of fast bowling.

He was rewarded for his efforts by removing Dinesh Mongia, who had made 27 when he succumbed to the softest of dismissals, giving Flintoff a simple catch at short mid-wicket.

That brought Dravid to the crease, and together with Tendulkar he took the game away from England's grasp with a perfectly-paced stand.

It was not one of Tendulkar's best innings but his knock contained a smattering of classical drives amid a welter of deflections and improvised strokes.

He was becalmed for much of his time in the middle, and the shot that took him to 50 - a nudge to third man off Andrew Flintoff - epitomised much of his innings.

But having taken 72 balls to get to his half-century, he powered through the gears like a highly-tuned Ferrari as England's weaker bowlers were bludgeoned to all parts of the Riverside.

He needed only another 34 deliveries to arrive at 100, capitalising on a misfield by Durham's Paul Collingwood at long-off to reach three figures.

Tendulkar was the junior partner to Rahul Dravid for much of their 169-run partnership - a fourth-wicket record for India against England.

Dravid dominated the strike, but one always had the suspicion that Tendulkar had his foot poised over the accelerator and was ready to move into overdrive.

That time came almost as soon he passed 50, and coincided with Hussain having to turn to his lesser bowlers.

Kirtley's 10 overs cost 77 runs, and Collingwood and Ashley Giles went for a combined total of 89 from five overs each as Tendulkar, Dravid and latterly Yuvraj Singh launched a merciless assault.

Collingwood was fortunate that Dravid slapped him down Flintoff's throat at deep square leg but that brought Singh to the crease and the rampage continued unabated.

The last over, from Gough, went for 16 runs - including 14 from his first four deliveries, all to Singh.

* Durham's first ten years as a first-class county will be chronicled in a TV programme tonight.

Durham - A First Class Story will be on Tyne Tees at 10.30pm and features the Northern Echo's cricket writer Tim Wellock.

Read more about Durham here.