Lancashire's batsmen made a rocky start to their second innings after tea on day three as they look to save their ongoing LV= County Championship match against Durham.
The Red Rose were reduced to 69-3 from 25 overs, losing Stephen Moore, Karl Brown and Paul Horton for 34 as new ball bowler Graham Onions struck twice.
Faced with a first innings deficit of 273, Lancashire knew they had just under four sessions to bat out to preserve their unbeaten start to the season.
Durham were finally bowled out for a mammoth 586 in 140 overs, boosted by fabulous knocks of 185 from Ben Stokes and 137 from Dale Benkenstein. Captain Phil Mustard also added a late 61 off 63 balls.
Glen Chapple, Tom Smith, Luke Procter and Gary Keedy all took two wickets apiece in the innings.
But they were frustrated by a record fourth wicket stand of 331 inside 84 overs between Stokes and Benkenstein. Not only was it the best fourth wicket alliance in the club’s history, it was also their second highest ever for any wicket.
Although left-handed Stokes, 19, was extremely watchful through the majority of his time at the crease, he did display some of the power that he has been famed for later on when he slog-swept Steven Croft for two sixes over mid-wicket.
Both of them cleared the pavilion roof and landed in the car park. He also added 20 fours.
Stokes also wrote himself into the record books as only the second man in County Championship history to score five hundreds before the age of 20. He will celebrate his 20th birthday on Saturday, and only Denis Compton has achieved the same feat.
Stokes had brought up his three figures last night, but Benkenstein reached his this morning off 169 balls, his fourth ton of the season so far.
Coach Peter Moores said: “If we can come out of this with a draw, it will feel like a win.
“They’ve proven that you can put a partnership together. The odd ball is doing a bit, but you’ve just got to hope that you don’t nick it.”
Having seen Durham resume the day at 279-3, Lancashire claimed their first wicket of the day just after lunch when Procter had Benkenstein caught behind with 425 on the board in the 108th over.
“We knew that once we had got a session in, we were going to be trying to save the game,” continued Moores. “It was a tough day, there’s no doubt about that. But we’ve played good cricket all year, and the team have got to find a way of batting three sessions.”
Stokes then followed shortly afterwards as he tried to launch Croft out of the ground for a third time.
Ian Blackwell was the sixth wicket to fall in the 117th over, bowled by Kyle Hogg, and Scott Borthwick was caught by Horton at first slip off the bowling of Chapple to leave the score at 485-7.
Mustard and Callum Thorp then shared an eighth-wicket stand of 73 inside 12 overs to take their side’s score beyond 550, with Mustard clearing the ropes three times during his breezy effort.
Thorp was caught behind by Gareth Cross off Smith for 22 before tea, but captain Mustard was not content with a lead of 255 at the second break of the day.
He came out to help his side add another 18 runs for the loss of two wickets. Mitch Claydon was bowled by Keedy and Mustard caught at short fine-leg by Kyle Hogg of the same bowler.
Lancashire were hampered by four missed catches during the innings. Three of them went to Horton at first slip, although two of them could only be classed as half chances to let Stokes off the hook off the spin of Keedy.
But he would probably have expected to have clung on to the one off the bowling of Procter. Stokes gave chances on 84, 108 and 167. Smith also had a chance when Thorp edged Chapple into the slip cordon.
Moore was then trapped lbw by Onions in the seventh over and Brown followed the same way to Thorp to leave Lancashire at 30-2 in the 12th. Onions next had Horton caught behind in the day’s penultimate over, leaving Mark Chilton and night-watchman Keedy to resume tomorrow.
Photo (c) Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
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