|Ground:||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|Scorecard:||Lancashire v Durham|
|Player:||MJ Chilton, S Chanderpaul, ID Blackwell|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2010|
The match at Old Trafford is boiling up to an exciting finish on the final day, and at the close of the third Durham will consider they have their noses in front. Set 171 runs for victory, they will go into the final day with their remaining eight wickets needing to score another 113 runs to win the match.
Lancashire resumed in the morning at a rickety 22 for two in their second innings, still 34 runs behind Durham. The first session of play lasted eight balls and four minutes, and contained an edged four by Mark Chilton before a drizzle drove the players off the field until 11.30. Chilton and the night-watchman Gary Keedy handled some good seam bowling well, although oddly the pitch was considerably easier than it had been on the previous evening. After 52 minutes of play Lancashire finally wiped off their deficit and went into the black.
When Keedy proved particularly stubborn, Harmison tried to bounce him out, followed by the yorker, but the left-hander was up to the test. His stay lasted a total of 97 minutes, and then he unwisely tried to sweep Scott Borthwicks third ball, which turned out to be the flipper, scuttling through and trapping him lbw for a gallant 24. Shiv Chanderpaul replaced him and Lancashire went in to lunch on 85 for three, a greatly improved position, especially as Durham had to bat last. All the Durham bowlers had done a reasonable job without luck, except perhaps Ian Blackwell, who seemed to struggle with the damp ball.
After the interval the war of attrition continued. Chilton finally reached another admirable fifty, his second of the match, off 121 balls. He did not add to that score, however, and must have regretted his unwise decision to sweep at a straight ball from Blackwell trapped lbw, and Lancashire 107 for four. Steven Croft nearly made it five down immediately, but a close umpiring decision for lbw went his way, as he pushed forward rather than swept.
Chanderpaul was now beginning to open up, also being particularly keen on the sweep, but Durham missed a golden opportunity to run him out on 26, with a mid-pitch mix-up between the batsmen. After this he seemed to retreat back into his shell, and it was a surprise when he suddenly swung a ball from Blackwell over midwicket for six. Croft was more aggressive, but fell on 28 to a superb diving catch at slip by Michael Di Venuto as he tried to drive a ball from Borthwick; 164 for five. Soon afterwards Chanderpaul drove the same bowler through the covers for four to reach his fifty, off 111 balls. However, his was a crucial wicket Durham seized on the stroke of tea; stepping back to force a ball from Blackwell through the off side, he was bowled for 67, and Lancashire were now 194 for six, 138 runs ahead. This was the crucial dismissal, perhaps the turning point of the days play and even of the match.
There was little to follow for the home side afterwards, with Gareth Cross (13) and Luke Sutton (6) both falling lbw after pretty colourless innings. Glen Chapple launched some big hits as the ship went down, making 19 before running himself out with the last man in, trying to retain the strike. The team total was 226, setting Durham a target of 171. Blackwell took four wickets, though they cost him 102 runs, while Borthwick bowled well enough to deserve more than just 11 overs in taking two for 32.
Di Venuto and Mark Stoneman made a positive start towards their target, moving the ball skilfully through the attacking field. 22 runs came off the first four overs, and Keedy was brought on for the sixth. For once Stoneman had most of the runs, although facing most of the bowling. He grew a little too adventurous, though, and Keedy took him out, bowling him for 14 as he aimed a rather ambitious drive. Keedy had Gordon Muchall in all sorts of trouble, and it was no surprise when he had him caught at slip for 3, trying to flick a ball to leg against the spin. Durham were now 43 for two.
Mitchell Claydon came out as night-watchman and, much to the relief of his team, he and Di Venuto survived until the close. With Dale Benkenstein and Blackwell still in reserve, Durham have perhaps the advantage on paper but for Lancashire the key player on the final day will be their left-arm spinner Keedy. The odds are against him, but he might just prove to be their match-winner.