Chanderpaul anchors Durham
Shivnarine Chanderpaul repaid Durham’s investment with a timely first hundred as they sought to stay in with a chance of claiming the LV County Championship Division One title.
Cricket’s newest county were playing catch-up after a first-day washout against champions Sussex at the Riverside in this penultimate round of matches.
After a rash of top-order 20s and 30s had hindered early progress, Chanderpaul’s unbeaten 130 ensured Durham could kick on to 325 for four by stumps and therefore retain some hope of pushing for the victory they are likely to need to remain within striking distance of their title rivals.
The world’s number one batsman arrested his disappointing run for Durham with 93 in last week’s top-of-the-table draw against Somerset at Taunton.
Today, he upped the ante again with a 134-ball hundred, his 46th, containing 12 boundaries and full of typically assured placement from the West Indies left-hander - dominating an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 182 with Gareth Breese (63no).
Following a half-hour delay to allow the outfield extra opportunity to dry this morning, Durham’s intent was soon being undermined by faulty shots from batsmen who had laid the foundations for better.
Durham did get their prescribed solid start thanks to Michael Di Venuto and his less accustomed opening partner, Ben Harmison.
But after a stand of 52, the reliable Di Venuto - within touching distance of 1,000 first-class runs for the season - missed an attempted drive at Jason Lewry and went lbw to some full-length swing from the left-armer.
Harmison, averaging a paltry 15, overcame a nervy start to survive until lunch - latterly in company with Will Smith.
But the tall left-hander was first to go in the afternoon, having just got a short ball from Mohammad Sami away for two runs with an awkward pull only to waft at the next delivery and edge on to middle stump.
Smith and Dale Benkenstein were both to follow, again wasting their starts, when they edged drives behind - the former departing to a diving catch by Matt Prior.
One of Chanderpaul or Benkenstein would have gone cheaply if either Chris Nash or substitute Rory Hamilton-Brown had produced even adequate fielding to rise above a comedy mix-up over a single.
The Durham captain was unable to make his opponents pay too dearly.
However Chanderpaul did - while Breese played sensibly and increasingly fluently in an important support role on his only first-class appearance of the summer to date.
The upshot was that Durham could crash on with impunity against the old and then second new ball, until bad light cost them the last six overs - grabbing back at least some of the time lost to the likes of Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Kent while the Riverside stood frustratingly in flood yesterday.
Sussex must surely now be looking down rather than up for their motivation. But events elsewhere so far indicate a draw and a smattering of bonus points from this match should put them in a strong position to rubber-stamp their top-flight safety at home to Yorkshire next week.