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Durham dominate in Abu Dhabi

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Steve Harmison

Steve Harmison, armed with the pink ball, steams in during an impressive opening spell in Abu Dhabi today

Durham put both the MCC batsmen and the much-hyped pink ball through their paces, bowling their opponents out for 162 to assume a dominant position after two days of the county season curtain-raiser.

After MCC laboured in stifling heat for just three wickets with the lurid Kookaburra yesterday, 18 fell on day two at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi today.

The county champions were seven for two at the close - 304 ahead - having declined to enforce the follow-on.

Durham declared their first innings on 459 for nine and went on to make light work of an MCC side sorely missing Mark Ramprakash, who flew home yesterday morning.

Steve Harmison took two wickets in a fiery new-ball spell, while 19-year-old leg-spinner Scott Borthwick returned figures of 4-27 to cap a dominant day for the county champions.

Earlier, Kyle Coetzer converted his overnight 123 into a mammoth 172, which spanned 371 balls, while 18-year-old Ben Stokes scored 51 on his first-class debut.

Part-time leg-spinner Dawid Malan was responsible for a Durham lower-order collapse that saw four wickets fall for two runs - he claimed scarcely deserved figures of 4-20 - while James Middlebrook finished with 3-118 from 35 overs of off spin.

However, MCC’s reply was undermined by a top-order collapse that left them reeling on six for three, and Malan’s dogged 41 could not prevent them conceding a 297-run first-innings deficit.

Durham resumed this morning on 329 for three but lost Ian Blackwell to Steve Kirby in the first over of the day, caught at slip by David Sales for 13.

England Under-19 international Stokes, who got things moving by clubbing left-arm spinner Dean Cosker back over his head for six went to a maiden fifty before lifting Middlebrook to Scott Newman at long-on.

Coetzer brought up his 150 off 331 deliveries, only to fall lbw to a Malan full toss to end an eight-and-a-half-hour vigil.

His departure signalled the beginning of a run of four wickets, and three ducks, in five minutes. Borthwick miscued a long hop, Callum Thorp offered a return catch and Mitch Claydon was caught by Gidman to prompt the declaration.

James Foster & Kyle Coetzer

James Foster watches Kyle Coetzer plough on to 172, spanning 371 deliveries, as Durham strengthen their grip on this one-sided contest

Unfortunately for MCC, the flow of wickets was not stemmed by the change of innings and they were three down before the end of the fifth over.

Thorp set the ball rolling, trapping Newman leg before offering no stroke, before Harmison took over.

The England pace bowler found good pace and a testing line and was soon rewarded with the wicket of Sales, lbw for four.

Next to go was 2009 PCA Young Player of the Year James Taylor, who fended a fiery delivery to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard without scoring.

Captain Alex Gidman led a brief fightback before Mustard claimed a smart catch to give Stokes a maiden first-class wicket.

James Foster and Malan steered MCC into three figures before the former departed for 26, the victim of a superb return catch by Thorp.

The 35-year-old Australian took a third wicket when Malan found Borthwick at point to leave his side 103 for six.

Borthwick was introduced into the attack and proceeded to sweep aside the MCC tail, accounting for numbers eight to 11 in just 29 balls.

With both Durham openers making first-innings centuries, captain Will Smith opted to open alongside Borthwick, who promptly made a second duck of the day, caught behind off Kirby.

Kirby removed Dale Benkenstein lbw with the next delivery to leave Durham nought for two, but it barely affected their utterly dominant position.

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