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Coughlin and Mustard drag Durham past 300

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The clash between two teams battling to avoid LV= County Championship relegation produced a rollercoaster opening day which swung back Durham's way via an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 126 between Paul Coughlin and Phil Mustard.

Making his championship debut because of injuries to Graham Onions, Mark Wood and Jamie Harrison, 21-year-old Coughlin fearlessly rode some early luck to make an unbeaten 71 against Lancashire, with Durham ending on 310 for eight.

Mustard, dropped down to number eight, showed unusual restraint in reaching 64. Prior to his arrival the balance had tipped Lancashire's way through a five-wicket haul for Kyle Hogg.

After the start was delayed for 15 minutes by rain Durham were inserted in overcast conditions and raced to 70 for one after 13 overs. They then took a further 37 overs to double the score while losing five more wickets before Gordon Muchall and Mustard put on 57.

Muchall departed for 35 when a sweetly-timed clip off Hogg flew straight to midwicket and the bowler completed his haul when John Hastings pushed forward and edged behind.

National selector James Whitaker was present at the Emirates Durham ICG, and he saw all-rounder Ben Stokes make 21 before he was bowled by a ball from Kabir Ali which kept low.

Paul Coughlin celebrates his fifty on his LV= County Championship debut as his partnership with Phil Mustard rescued Durham

The conditions made it difficult for Lancashire's left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan to make much of an impression, with the pitch more suited to the seamers in a game that saw Australia batsman Usman Khawaja make his debut for the visitors.

Glen Chapple's decision to insert on an overcast morning made more sense than when Middlesex chose to field in sunny conditions in the last match here and proceeded to bowl poorly in conceding a total of 568 for nine.

Lancashire did not bowl badly early on and with conditions in their favour they always looked as though they should be taking wickets. The Durham openers rode their luck with thick edges contributing to Kabir conceding 27 of the 28 runs which came off the first six overs.

Hogg was always threatening, as much through the extra bounce he occasionally extracted as from the modicum of sideways movement.

It was the bounce which accounted for Paul Collingwood, caught at gully. But although he finished with five wickets, he bowled no better than the wicketless Chapple, who played a key role in strangling the innings after its rapid start.

He kept a firm lid on Stokes, who diligently survived some probing bowling after lunch then straight drove the first ball of Kabir's second spell for four, only to be bowled by the next.

Conditions eased in the evening and although Coughlin enjoyed some luck none of the seamers could do anything to unsettle him.

Coughlin admitted he found it tough going at the start of his innings, saying: "I was nervous until I got to about 20. I went down the pitch and told the Colonel (Mustard) I could hardly grip the bat. But we knew if we hung around for a while the runs would come."

Hogg paid tribute to the Durham duo for their stand but hopes his side can finish off the hosts early on the second day.

He said: "We backed ourselves to knock them over when we put them in. But the ninth-wicket pair played really well.

"Every team scores runs down the order these days, but there's a bit of nip there for the bowlers and we have to get those last two wickets as quickly as possible tomorrow."

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