Late scalps lift Lancashire
Lancashire claimed three late Durham wickets on the second evening to set up an intriguing finale to the LV=County Championship Division One top-of-the-table clash.
Trailing by 102 runs after both sides completed their first innings on a manic opening day at Aigburth, the Red Rose wiped out the deficit by reaching 104 for one at lunch.
Durham chipped away thereafter to dismiss their opponents for 282 despite classy half-centuries from Paul Horton and Luke Procter.
But an awkward 10-over spell for the visitors produced late drama as Kyle Hogg trapped Michael Di Venuto and Gordon Muchall lbw, and a trademark stunning catch from Steven Croft at third slip gave Sajid Mahmood the wicket of nightwatchman Graham Onions.
Paul Collingwood joined Will Smith in the middle as Durham closed on 27 for three, chasing 181 for what could prove to be a pivotal victory in the title race.
Resuming on four without loss, Lancashire openers Horton and Stephen Moore were soon scoring freely on both sides of the wicket, providing early evidence that batting conditions had eased considerably without the muggy heat of the opening day.
Moore clipped to the midwicket fence to register the fifty partnership in the 14th over but departed shortly afterwards for 14, driving Onions uppishly to Scott Borthwick at cover.
Horton was joined by Karl Brown and continued to dominate the scoring, cutting and driving the pace bowlers with authority. His eighth four came off the left-arm spin of Ian Blackwell and brought up a 74-ball half-century.
With the game back in the balance at the lunch interval, Durham’s first-innings hero Callum Thorp claimed the vital breakthrough in the third over of the afternoon.
Umpire Mark Benson felt pad was struck before bat and gave Horton out lbw for 64, although the batsman appeared to disagree. Brown also felt willow was involved when he was trapped in front by Blackwell, and the end of his enterprising 37 meant Lancashire were 136 for three.
There was little doubt over the third leg before dismissal of the session, however, as ball three of Steve Harmison’s third spell was on target and found stand-in Lancashire captain Mark Chilton playing across the line to be out for 23.
Croft played expansively and launched Blackwell over the midwicket boundary for six, but his breezy 26 concluded when Thorp pouched a low chance in the gully to give Harmison his second scalp.
The big fast bowler was now in his groove, and Procter underwent a thorough examination during a fiery seven-over burst. He survived through to tea alongside wicketkeeper Gareth Cross.
Harmison’s fellow seamer Onions was absent from the attack throughout the afternoon session, but returned to quickly remove Cross and Mahmood. Both played on, reducing Lancashire to 220 for seven.
New man Hogg elected to attack Onions as a straight drive followed by a thrashing square cut produced consecutive fours. Spin was to be his undoing though, propping forward for Smith to take a sprawling catch at silly point off Borthwick’s leg-spin.
Procter took this as his cue to accelerate, plundering a succession of boundaries from Durham’s spin duo. He then worked Onions to third man to bring up 50, but added only two more runs before becoming the latest Lancashire batsman to play on, this time to Thorp.
Junaid Khan avoided a pair on debut with some lusty hitting – the highlight a towering straight six off Borthwick – and he was the last man out as Onions found the stumps for the third time to finish the pick of the Durham bowlers with 4-74.