Durham have laid the platform for a remarkable fightback victory over Warwickshire after turning their Specsavers County Championship match on its head on the third day at Edgbaston.
Trailing by 123 on first innings, the visitors bowled Warwickshire out for 114, 22-year-old seamer James Weighell leading the way with 5-33, to leave a victory target of 238.
That was no formality in a match in which the ball has swung throughout, but Durham resume on the last morning on 154-4,with Keaton Jennings (88, 184 balls) and Paul Collingwood (26, 70 balls) having added an unbroken 67 in 23 overs.
Jennings hopes to clinch victory today. He said: “It’s been a great game with everything from a beautiful debutant hundred to a nine-for to a great finish with us just needed 83 runs on the final day. It will be an exciting day tomorrow and hopefully we will come out on top.
“It’s been a good season so far for Mark Stoneman amd myself. Mark has played beautifully without kind of racing away.
“I thought they bowled well (yesterday), they tied us down and didn’t allow us to get off at three, four or five an over. But Rocky (Stoneman) dug in and created the platform for myself and other guys to go on and score.
“It’s a wicket that is really tough to get in on, as you can see from so many guys facing 15 to 30 balls then getting out.
“We have got to get in and make sure we really drive the game deep and give ourselves a platform to score those 83 runs.”
The fifth-wicket pair shored up the innings after Chris Wright induced a major bout of turbulence with a burst of 4-10 in 23 balls. That flurry put the home side back on top. but Jennings’s measured batting sent his team into the final day requiring only 84 more to win, with six wickets in hand.
Warwickshire will reflect with regret upon a second-innings batting implosion during which only Varun Chopra (34 off 70 balls) and Jonathan Trott passed 20. One significant partnership would have taken the match beyond Durham, but it never arrived as, resuming on 15-2, they lost six wickets in the morning and the other two soon after lunch.
Middlesbrough-born Weighell took his match-figures to 9-133 with a five-for which included the wickets of Ian Bell, lbw to a swinging yorker, and first-innings century-maker Andy Umeed, caught behind. He also induced edges from Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose before finishing off the innings when Olly Hannon-Dalby holed out to mid-wicket.
Durham’s pursuit of 238 moved serenely to 65-0 at tea but was then hit by Wright’s fiery burst.
Fast, straight balls did for Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick, Jack Burnham fell to a stinging second-slip catch by Umeed and Michael Richardson pulled to mid-wicket.
On a pitch offering the spinners nothing, however, Jennings and Collingwood batted with great responsibility to restore Durham as favourites going into the final day of an enthralling match.
Warwickshire bowler Chris Wright added: “It is delicately poised. They are slight favourites but we have seen in this game that, once you get on a roll, wickets do fall quite quickly so as long as we come fast out of the blocks tomorrow and take an early one or two, then we are in with a great chance.
“They batted well there at the end. They batted calmly and, as a side, played Jeetan Patel exceptionally well. Jeets bowled very well without taking any wickets.”