A captain’s knock from Mark Stoneman left Durham with ambitions of victory heading into the final day of the County Champion match against MCC in Abu Dhabi.
Stoneman struck 115 at the top of the order and was backed up by 56 from Gordon Muchall as Durham made 257 in their second innings, setting MCC 224 for victory.
They remain well placed to chase those runs down, despite Jamie Harrison and Scott Borthwick resuming their fine work with the ball and taking a wicket apiece as MCC closed on 48 for two - openers Luis Reece and Sam Robson the men back in the hutch.
Nursing a first-innings deficit of 34, Durham lost Keaton Jennings for nought last night and Borthwick departed without adding to his overnight 12 to leave them 39 for two.
Stoneman then grasped the initiative, manufacturing useful partnerships that ensured a regular fall of wickets never descended into a complete collapse, and he went to lunch with a deserved century to his name
Indeed, the only half-century stand of the innings came when Muchall joined Stoneman at four down, the duo adding 60 for the fifth wicket before the latter was bowled by Andre Adams.
Muchall eked out 43 alongside Usman Arshad before falling in similar fashion to Harry Gurney - the Nottinghamshire left-arm seamer’s 3-50 the pick among an MCC attack that shared its wickets around.
Following a couple of rain interruptions, it left an awkward 20-over session for their batsmen to negotiate and Harrison, who claimed an excellent 5-60 yesterday, was soon back among the wickets.
The left-armer made good use of the new ball to induce an edge from first-innings top-scorer Reece.
Borthwick toiled long and hard for 3-95 first time around and the leg-spinner will be central to Durham’s ambitions on a wearing pitch.
He won an lbw verdict against Robson, a colleague from England Lions' recent tour of Sri Lanka, to remove the Middlesex man for 17.
Borthwick dismissed Virender Sehwag cheaply in the first-innings but the veteran India star served notice of his intentions by sending the bowler for consecutive fours before stumps were drawn.