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Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Sunday, 18 April 2010 18:20 UK

Durham and elements thwart Essex

Durham 198 & 352-7 drew with Essex 484 (Durham 4pts, Essex 9pts)
Match scorecard

Durham wicketkeeper Phil Mustard
Phil Mustard struck 10 fours in his unbeaten 60

Champions Durham batted through the final day with the help of rain and bad light to claim a draw with Essex.

After Durham resumed on 147-2, still 139 behind, Michael Di Venuto (99) and Dale Benkenstein (98) took their stand to 212 - a Durham third-wicket record.

But when both fell to Tim Phillips (4-113), it took half-centuries from Ian Blackwell (52) and Phil Mustard (60 no) to nudge the hosts into the lead.

Durham led by 66 on 352-7 when play was halted with 34 overs still remaining.

The backs-to-the-wall effort ensured that Durham did not suffer a first home defeat since June 2008, but they have only picked up four points at the start of their quest for a third successive title.

Di Venuto and Benkenstein both seemed set for centuries when, 90 minutes into the day's play, Benkenstein drove Phillips into the hands of short mid-off.

Two overs later, Di Venuto pushed forward to a ball that did not turn and edged to Alastair Cook at slip.

Ben Stokes pulled Ryan ten Doeschate to Billy Godleman at mid-wicket soon after, but a sixth-wicket stand of 82 between Blackwell and Mustard looked to be moving Durham towards safety.

But, under gathering gloom, Phillips would strike again. First, Blackwell allowed the ball to trickle under his forward defence before Liam Plunkett was trapped in front for a duck.

Mustard, now supported by Callum Thorp, continued to attack and completed a 79-ball half-century to increase Durham's precious lead.

However, rain arrived and forced the players off for an early tea and only five overs were possible in the evening session as Essex were robbed of their chance of a notable win.

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see also
Di Venuto leads Durham fightback
17 Apr 10 |  Counties
Essex batsmen break county record
16 Apr 10 |  Counties
Mickleburgh ton puts Essex on top
15 Apr 10 |  Counties

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