A BATTLING unbeaten 70 by Dale Benkenstein ensured Durham gained a first innings lead and a second batting point. But they would have hoped for better than 279 for nine.

They lead by 42, but batting last on this previously-used Oval pitch will not be easy as it has been difficult enough on a day when 13 overs were lost to afternoon rain.

As expected, spinners Gareth Batty and Gary Keedy have bowled 58 overs between them, but Keedy remained wicketless while Zander de Bruyn took three wickets in mid-innings with his brisk medium pace.

Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes were both guilty of thinking they should take the opportunity to get after him and after the break for rain he also removed Paul Collingwood.

The Durham captain thrust pad and bat at the ball, which struck the former first and had him lbw for four, giving de Bruyn figures of three for nine at the time.

On 182 for five Durham were vulnerable, but Phil Mustard played well for 35 in a stand of 54. He waited for the ball he could hit and put it away with his usual aplomb before Batty turned one to have him lbw on the back foot.

Benkenstein swept Keedy for his sixth four to reach 50 off 129 balls, but Callum Thorp made only two before edging to slip to become Batty’s fourth victim.

Mark Wood made an assured 13 before edging Tim Linley to the wicketkeeper in the first over with the new ball. Being elevated to No 10 must have given Chris Rushworth an attack of vertigo as he drove the next ball straight back to the bowler.

That brought in debut boy Ryan Buckley at No 11 to face the hat-trick ball, which he defended solidly. Buckley bats in the lower middle order in the second team, but Benkenstein opted to try to farm the strike, resulting in eight fielders being placed on the boundary.

Buckley showed he could cope as he picked up three singles and played out a final maiden from Keedy .