RICARDO VASCONCELOS scored an unbeaten century to put Northamptonshire in a strong position on day two of their Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash against Durham at Emirates Riverside.

Durham had mustered a score of 253 from their first innings through the efforts of a record-breaking stand between Ben Raine and Brydon Carse, with both players notching half-centuries. Ben Sanderson ended with impressive figures of 4-55, although the visitors allowed the home side to put on 172 for the final three wickets.

Vasconcelos led the Northants response, scoring a brilliant century from 194 deliveries. The 21-year-old played the anchor role, combining in partnerships with Temba Bavuma and Brett Hutton to guide his team past Durham's total before the end of the day. Carse and Chris Rushworth took three wickets apiece, but Northants have the advantage heading into day three.


Durham resumed on their overnight total of 209-7, and Carse continued his fine innings, reaching his second first-class fifty from 143. He and Raine surpassed the eighth-wicket partnership record for Durham set by Phil Mustard and Liam Plunkett in 2009 at Headingley, reaching 154 for their stand.

Raine added seven runs to his score before he was pinned lbw by Hutton, ending his innings of 82. Carse kept the scoreboard moving and he followed in the footsteps of Raine from the previous day, posting his highest total in a first-class contest. However, he ran out of partners as Sanderson and Hutton dismissed Matty Potts and Rushworth respectively, but only after the home side had secured their second batting point.

Northants made a solid start to their innings before Rushworth believed he had made the breakthrough. However, Ben Curran was dropped on 18 by Jack Burnham at third slip, allowing a routine chance to slip through his hands. From the following delivery from Raine's over, Burnham failed to take a low chance from Vasconcelos, which would prove to be a costly miss. Burnham's day got worse when he shelled another simple opportunity to dismiss Curran on 26, with Rushworth once again the unfortunate bowler.

Carse returned after lunch to remove Curran's middle stump, adding only six runs, allowing Burnham to breathe a sigh of relief. Alex Wakely relinquished the Northants' captaincy last week, but the ease of the responsibility on his shoulders did not lead to an improvement with the bat. He edged a Carse delivery to Cameron Bancroft at second slip, falling for a duck.

Vasconcelos made the most of his second life building his innings at a good rate, notching his third half-century of the season from 91 deliveries, including five boundaries. Bavuma aided the counterattack as the two players put on fifty for the third wicket. They were untroubled and approaching their century stand before Bavuma fended a Carse delivery behind to Ned Eckersley.

The Durham bowlers sensed an opening and Rushworth surged through the middle order. He reached a significant milestone, taking his 450th first-class wicket when he pinned Rob Keogh lbw for a duck. In his next over, Rushworth dismissed Adam Rossington and Luke Procter in successive deliveries, both batsmen edging behind to Eckersely.

The home side's momentum was stymied by a crucial partnership between Vasconcelos and Hutton. Both players held firm after the tea break to guide the visitors over the 200-run mark, putting on a partnership worth fifty for the seventh wicket from 102 deliveries.

Vasconcelos reached a deserved hundred by hooking the ball into the stand, earning his second ton of the campaign. He and Hutton left guided their team one run ahead of the hosts, earning their second batting point, with four wickets remaining.