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Last-wicket pair deny Durham

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Champions Durham were thwarted by last-wicket pair Rob Newton and Muhammad Azhar Ullah as their opening LV=County Championship match against Northamptonshire ended in a tense draw.

Set an unlikely 319 to win from 79 overs, the hosts were teetering on the brink of defeat when they were reduced to 186 for nine with nine overs left.

But Azhar provided valuable support to Newton, who followed up his first-innings knock of 43 by top-scoring on 48 not out to keep Paul Collingwood's men at bay.

Resuming the final day at Wantage Road on 178 for five, Durham added a further 66 runs in relatively sedate fashion.

Michael Richardson added just six to his overnight 53 before being bowled by Maurice Chambers with the score on 189. Durham show their frustration as Graham Onions cannot hold on to a difficult chance at leg-slip to dismiss last man Muhammad Azhar Ullah

Gareth Breese, Durham's other overnight batsman who backed up his first-innings half-century, brought up the 200 on his way to 34 when he was trapped leg before by Andrew Hall with the score on 231.

Usman Arshad then fell to James Middlebrook, who completed figures of 5-62, for 17 and Durham were all out for 244 when Hall removed Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth cheaply in his 18th over to finish with 3-57.

A target of 319 always looked beyond the promoted hosts but they began the chase in a positive mood, with Stephen Peters batting aggressively before he edged Rushworth behind to Phil Mustard for 18.

Onions then struck twice in six balls, bowling former Durham batsman Kyle Coetzer for 12 and removing the off stump of left-hander Matthew Spriegel, who had top-scored with 97 in Northants' first innings.

Middlebrook was approaching a half-century when Breese took a good diving catch to give Arshad a first victim and at tea the home side had just five wickets and 32 overs left to save the match. 

Onions struck shortly after the interval, inducing David Willey into a false stroke to give Scott Borthwick a catch in the slips.

On a slow wicket and without the option of a second new ball, it was always likely to be an uphill task as time began to run out.

Newton, renowned for his attacking strokeplay, suppressed his natural instincts to frustrate the Durham attack, with Steven Crook proving to be just as stubborn at the other end.

Jamie Harrison returned to the attack to bowl Crook and Borthwick set up a dramatic finish when he took two wickets in as many balls - David Murphy and Chambers, both without scoring.

However, Azhar saw out the final over from Harrison to secure a thrilling draw.

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