Sedbergh set for grand finale after dramatic day
Five wickets by Graham Onions and a second half century from Dane Vilas came to Lancashire’s rescue on a dramatic day of fluctuating fortunes in this Specsavers County Championship match.
Onions blasted out Durham before lunch but not before the visitors had frustrated Lancashire’s bowlers for more than ninety minutes at the start of day three.
And with the Lancashire second innings wobbling at 59-5, and the lead only just past the hundred mark, Vilas produced a gritty and determined 74 not out, well supported by Steven Croft, to steer the Red Rose into the strong position of 204-7 by stumps and with a good lead of 260 runs.
It looks like the final day at Sedbergh School is nicely set up for a great finish.
The third morning was a curious affair with no wicket taken during the first 97 minutes before Durham collapsed in spectacular fashion in the half hour before lunch.
Resuming on 199-5 the visitors advanced steadily towards matching Lancashire’s first innings 337 with Liam Trevaskis and Nathan Rimmington adding 66 runs for the sixth wicket.
Lancashire missed an good opportunity when Rimmington was dropped on 8 but the early talking point came shortly after the new ball had been taken eight overs into the day when James Anderson pulled up with tightness in his right calf after bowling eight balls and left the field.
It was later confirmed Anderson will not bowl again in this game and he will continue to be assessed by the medical staff.
But the Red Rose attack shrugged off the loss of the England ace to turn their fortunes around, led by the persevering Onions who finally made the breakthrough with the wicket of Trevaskis, caught behind by Vilas for 38.
That sparked a spectacular collapse as five wickets fell for 18 runs in exactly 10 overs.
The former Durham bowler then trapped Ned Eckersley lbw for 3 and repeated the feat to send back Rimmington for 53.
Keaton Jennings chipped in with his first wicket for Lancashire in first-class cricket when Ben Raine edged to Croft at slip for 5 before Onions wrapped up the Durham innings on 281 with his fourth wicket of the morning in 31 balls when Chris Rushworth edged behind for 6.
It completed an excellent turnaround for the Red Rose and a fine morning for Onions who finished with 5-93, his second five-wicket haul of the season and 30th of his career.
But the wickets continued to fall after lunch when Lancashire batted a second time with a lead of 56.
Rushworth stunned the hosts with two wickets in the first over; Jennings caught behind by Eckersley off the first ball and Haseeb Hameed caught at by Cameron Bancroft at second slip from the fourth.
Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone fought back with a partnership of 51 before Davies miscued a pull off Rimmington to be caught at deep square leg for 15 and Livingstone edged Raine to Bancroft at slip after striking six boundaries in his 35.
When Rob Jones was run out for 5 from a fine throw by Trevaskis in the deep as the batsmen attempted a second run, Lancashire were in a spot of trouble on 59-5 and only 115 ahead.
Vilas and Croft responded in fine fashion with a battling performance as Durham sensed a real opportunity.
The pair posted their second half century partnership of the match in the first over after tea and Vilas was soon driving consecutive deliveries from Rushworth for four.
And the Lancashire captain reached his second fifty in this game from 76 balls when he pulled Ben Raine to midwicket for his seventh boundary.
That shot also took the Red Rose lead past the 200 mark but Croft was then bowled for 35 by a Rimmington delivery that kept low to end a vital 87-run alliance, the joint highest partnership in the match.
Josh Bohannon helped Vilas maintain the momentum with a series of scintillating pulls and drives in a quick-fire 22 before edging behind off Brydon Carse.
But skipper Vilas stood firm, needing treatment for a nasty blow to the arm at one point, and will resume on 74 alongside Saqib Mahmood (11 not out) when play resumes tomorrow.
"It has been an interesting contest and feels like a fair contest between bat and ball,” was Mark Chilton’s assessment at the close.
“It's set up really nicely and both sides have played some good battling cricket.”
And Lancashire’s Assistant Head Coach believes the wicket at Sedbergh has contributed to a good contest between bat and ball adding:
"A couple of people have been hit on the gloves and Steven Croft's wicket seemed to keep on the low side so there is a bit of variable bounce.
“But you'd expect that on days three and four of a wicket so I don't think it's anything untoward.
And Chilton is looking forward to the final day at this new venue.
"It's been a fantastic knock from the captain to put us in with a sniff but the game is probably in the balance,” he said.
"I think Liam Livingstone will come into the game at some point and the pitch is wearing all the time so he'll have an important job to do."
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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