Somerset on top despite Di Venuto ton

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Two late wickets revived Somerset’s hopes of a third successive LV= County Championship win with Durham still 146 behind on 227 for three in the second innings of their Division One match at the Emirates Durham ICG.

Following on 373 behind, Durham reached 209 for one but Gordon Muchall departed for 61 and Michael Di Venuto fell 20 balls from the close for 112.

Openers Will Smith and Di Venuto grafted until the 40th over to reach 89 when the former was trapped leg before by Peter Trego for 30, with Muchall then racing to his half-century off 55 balls with 10 fours.

But he added only four runs in the next hour and, as he focused on surviving until the morning, he suffered an almost identical dismissal to Smith’s.

Di Venuto’s concentration finally lapsed when he shaped to drive a ball from Steve Kirby, which was well wide of off-stump, and he edged to Marcus Trescothick at second slip.

Somerset made use of Arul Suppiah’s slow left-arm, but looked likely to pay for their lack of a spinner.

Michael Di Venuto

Michael Di Venuto gave Durham hope after following on but his fall for 112 confirmed Somerset's control going into the last day of four

Enforcing the follow-on imposed a big workload on their seamers, although they had not been unduly stretched in the morning when Durham’s remaining six wickets went down in 65 minutes.

Resuming on 182 for four in reply to 610 for six declared, the rot set in for Durham when a fifth-wicket stand of 52 was ended by Kirby, who gained an lbw decision bowling around the wicket to Phil Mustard - who made 22.

Ian Blackwell emerged with a runner following the back spasm which kept him off the field for most of the second day and three overs later Gemaal Hussain nipped a delivery back to bowl Dale Benkenstein off his pads for 33.

Scott Borthwick and Callum Thorp both seemed too anxious to go for their shots and fell to edged catches off Hussain and Charl Willoughby respectively before Blackwell, running out of partners, chipped a simple catch to mid-on as Hussain finished with 4-49.

Hussain was less impressive in the second innings when 18-year-old Lewis Gregory bowled two long-hops in his first over, which got Muchall under way.

Muchall put on 120 with Di Venuto, whose 17th first-class century in his fifth season with Durham was his second in successive matches.

On 38, the Tasmanian chipped Suppiah just short of midwicket but it was as close as he came to a mistake en route to his carefully-compiled 192-ball ton.

Benkenstein reached 10 in the last three overs, with Ben Stokes unbeaten on six.

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