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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 17:00 UK

Durham and Sussex settle for draw

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP Division One, Riverside (day four):
Durham 380 & 125-2 drew with Sussex 302

Durham 11 pts, Sussex 10

Durham's match against Sussex finished in a predictable draw at the Riverside with the hosts on 125-2 in their second innings, some 203 runs ahead.

Both teams are now booked in for tough assignments in the final round of Championship matches next Wednesday.

Durham must overturn a 10-point deficit behind leaders Nottinghamshire to sneak a maiden title when they play Kent.

Champions Sussex, meanwhile, will face an uncomfortable time in a relegation battle at home to Yorkshire.

The day began brightly for Durham, who took the last four wickets in barely an hour to bowl out Sussex for 302 from an overnight 267-6.

Durham then had the option of chasing quick runs to extend their lead and then declaring before trying to bowl the visitors out again.

If there was serious consideration - and it was a long shot to even contemplate taking 10 wickets in little more than a session on this untypically slow pitch - it was not entertained for long by Durham captain Dale Benkenstein.

Durham lost Ben Harmison to a mistimed chip to mid-on in 11 overs' batting before lunch and then Will Smith to a neat catch behind by Matt Prior, standing up to Robin Martin-Jenkins.

But with Michael Di Venuto in stoic occupation - 61 not out from 144 balls on his way past 1,000 first-class runs for the summer - and another half-hour taken out of proceedings by mid-afternoon bad light, the match dwindled to a tepid concludsion.

The one consolation for Sussex - on day when their lower order batting did not perform with much credit - was that they did at least sneak a precious third batting point from the final wicket pairing of Ollie Rayner (20 not out) and Jason Lewry.

Benkenstein said afterwards: "We're still in with a chance, with just the last five days to go, of winning the Championship. That's where you want to be.

"With Notts winning, they are clear and they play Hampshire without [leg-spinner] Imran Tahir - he's gone home - so things are falling into place for them a little bit.

"But Kent have just lost. So we hope if we can win down there and Hampshire put up a bit of a fight then we've still got a chance."

Sussex coach Mark Robinson said: "We got one [extra batting point] - which was the least we obviously hoped for.

"This game has been the story of our season really. We've got ourselves into a lot of good positions, a lot of people playing well, and we find different ways to get out - be it run-outs, or silly shots or whatever."

see also
Sussex batsmen frustrate Durham
19 Sep 08 |  Counties
Chanderpaul century aids Durham
18 Sep 08 |  Counties
No play at damp Chester-le-Street
17 Sep 08 |  Counties

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