Stokes thwarts Somerset

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes led Durham's resistance with a vital century to help them secure a hard-fought draw with Somerset at the Emirates Durham ICG

Ben Stokes led Durham’s rearguard action with a superb century to deny Somerset victory in their LV= County Championship Division One match at the Emirates Durham ICG .

The 19-year-old left-hander contributed 120 to a stand of 170 with Dale Benkenstein, who resisted for 207 minutes and 145 deliveries to make 66.

When Steve Kirby removed both Benkenstein and Ian Blackwell mid-afternoon, a Somerset win was still possible, but after two-and-a-half days in the field without a recognised spinner they were a spent force.

Phil Mustard and Scott Borthwick shared an unbroken stand of 73 and with Durham on 489 for six, 116 ahead after being asked to follow-on, hands were shaken on a draw at the start of what would have been the final hour.

Only three wickets fell on the final day - and only 22 in total over the four days - on a placid pitch on which Somerset made 610 for six declared batting first.

Durham needed a further 146 runs to avoid an innings defeat at the start of the day, but Stokes raced from six to 86 in the morning session.

When the new ball was taken in the day’s second over he drove Gemaal Hussain’s opening delivery to the cover boundary and a straight-driven four followed in the same over.

When Somerset turned to the slow left-arm of Arul Suppiah he was driven for two huge sixes in the space of three balls.

Stokes hit 10 fours in his 59-ball half-century and a back-foot four through the covers off Suppiah took him to his century.

Durham were 11 runs in front when he drove outside off-stump at Charl Willoughby and got an inside edge into his stumps.

Benkenstein was on 52 at the time – his sixth half-century in nine innings – and on 58 he survived a confident appeal for caught behind off Kirby.

He finally edged the same bowler to first slip, then Blackwell, again batting with a runner, survived a chance to Willoughby at mid-on off a miscued pull. But later in the same Kirby over he sliced a drive to gully to depart for 18.

Durham led by only 43 at the time, but with his senior bowlers on their knees, Marcus Trescothick had to turn to youngsters Lewis Gregory and Alex Barrow in the final session.

They were unable to make a breakthrough as Mustard made his way comfortably to 43, with Borthwick on 28 at the close.

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