DURHAM will have to bat even better today than they did last Saturday if they are to record their second successive championship win.

They go into the final day at Derby 272 behind and the hosts still have four wickets standing, giving them a ticklish decision over if or when to declare.

They are unlikely to be generous in view of the fact that Durham scored 318 for two to beat Nottinghamshire last week, but the likelihood is that 30 more runs will put the game beyond Durham's reach.

The thorn in their side was again chirpy wicketkeeper Karl Krikken, who made his first half-century for a year in the first innings and followed it up with another.

Coming in at 118 for five, he put on 87 - the biggest stand of the match - with Michael Di Venuto and was still there at the close on 52.

Di Venuto summoned the sort of responsibility which his efforts for Derbyshire have generally lacked and made 86, comfortably the top score of the match.

The fact that Nottinghamshire closed on 214 for six reflected a lack of penetration in the bowling after Stephen Harmison's opening burst.

The paceman was also a little unlucky when he came back after tea as Krikken edged him over the wicketkeeper three times.

Durham's remaining three wickets added 59 in the morning, continuing the pattern of the first two days as batsmen became well established then got out.

Nicky Phillips (30) and Simon Brown (22) both made higher scores than anything they managed last season, which was partly the result of some dreadful bowling by Richard Illingworth.

The left-arm spinner served up a blend of full tosses and long hops and the worst example of the latter accounted for Phillips when he smashed it to deep mid-on and was well caught by Munton.

One run later Durham were all out when Brown tried to pull a short ball from Graeme Welch and got a bottom edge to the wicketkeeper.

Had Durham not conceded 38 more extras than their hosts the first innings deficit would have been only 20. This would have been a fair reflection of two modest efforts in which 19 batsmen scored between ten and 54.

Ian Hunter received one of the few good balls in the first hour when he edged Munton to Krikken, and the ease with which Phillips and Brown then put on 44 suggested Durham could reach 300.

It also showed there was little for batsmen to fear from the pitch and there was no need to change this impression when Derbyshire quickly lost three wickets.

Left handers Steve Stubbings and Mathew Dowman were both victims of sudden accuracy from Steve Harmison when he went round the wicket, while Luke Sutton missed a straight ball from Phillips.

Stubbings shuffled across and was lbw then Harmison went within a coat of varnish of bowling Dowman before hitting his off stump via an inside edge in his next over.

Balls from Harmison also struck wicketkeeper Andrew Pratt a couple of blows above each knee and as he had difficulty in bending he handed the gloves to Martin Speight after lunch.

Given only four overs at the start of the innings, Brown came back at the end of Harmison's ten-over spell and twice beat Di Venuto.

But he remained wicketless from his first match after injury and will have to hope his luck changes at Gloucester on Wednesday.

Rob Bailey settled in doggedly to support Di Venuto in a stand of 62 and it was a big surprise when he suddenly surrendered, driving Michael Gough to substitute James Brinkley at mid-on.

When Welch went for nine, bowled by Hunter, the door was ajar for Durham but Krikken slammed it shut.

Things were getting desperate at 176 for five when Jon Lewis turned to Danny Law, whose first over went for nine runs.

But Lewis persevered and in his fifth over Law had Di Venuto caught down the leg side by Speight, prompting a drop in the scoring rate with only nine runs being added in the last half hour.

Four of those came when Krikken swept Phillips for his ninth boundary to reach 50 off 105 balls.