Important knocks from Dale Benkenstein and Paul Collingwood consigned Lancashire to a second LV= County Championship defeat of the season as Durham extended their lead at the top of the table to 23 points.
Benkenstein hit 60 not out and Collingwood 45 as the table-toppers chased down 181 during the first half of day three to win by five wickets, thus completing the double over Lancashire this season.
The hosts will be rueing two dropped catches as Collingwood was let off the hook by Paul Horton at first slip on 21 and Ian Blackwell was given a life on 13 by Kyle Hogg, who dropped a chance at long-leg after lunch.
Had Hogg taken his, Durham would have been 123-6, still needing 58 to win.
As it was, Blackwell and Benkenstein shared an unbroken 81 inside 21 overs for the sixth wicket to claim the 19 points.
Stand-in captain Mark Chilton said: “It is disappointing at the time, but they happen. Our collective effort was exceptional though.
“There is not a lot you can say. Kyle will bounce back. I dropped a catch for my club team on Saturday and felt dreadful.
“Hoggy will be disappointed. We don’t know what the consequences would have been if he had taken it. It was just an unfortunate incident. They happen, and you just get on with it and move on.”
As important as Collingwood’s innings was as he shared 58 for the fourth wicket with Will Smith, Lancashire still had more than a sniff of victory following his departure.
He was the victim of a stunning catch from Steven Croft at third slip off Luke Procter’s second ball. It was that good, diving away to his right, it made the one he snaffled to get Graham Onions the night before look like an absolute dolly.
But Benkenstein continued his remarkable run of form against Lancashire this summer to extinguish home hopes.
The experienced South African hit 137 in the match at the Riverside before notching 83 in the first innings here and then this 60. He has an average of 280 against the county having only been dismissed once in three innings.
“To get bowled out for 84 and still compete the way we did shows a lot of character,” continued Chilton. “We missed a couple of key chances, but the collective effort and the way the lads bowled in the first hour and a half, we could easily have had three or four early wickets.
“We really felt in the game. The way we attacked the day we felt we had a chance. Saj bowled really, really well, in particular.”
Gary Keedy also trapped Smith lbw with his second ball, leaving the score at 101-5.
But, despite a close run out call with Blackwell on four and some excellent bowling from Mahmood throughout the day, it just was not to be for the hosts.
Still, there is a long way to go in the title race yet. After all, Lancashire have played one match less than the current league leaders.
Chilton added: “Durham are the top team at the moment, and we put them under a lot of pressure chasing a smallish total. If we continue to do that, we will be alright.
“We have a game in hand, we have won six games out of nine, we are still in pretty good shape. We have to keep winning games to make sure Durham have to keep winning games.
“We are still well in the hunt, there is no doubt about that. It is not a season-defining moment as far as I am concerned.”
The two teams meet again in the Friends Life t20 competition at Old Trafford on Friday night.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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