Cricket: Wasim rescues Red Rose

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The Independent Online
WASIM AKRAM rescued title-chasing Lancashire from a disastrous start in their county championship game against Durham at Chester-le-Street yesterday.

Going in at 43 for 5 after choosing to bat, the Pakistani all-rounder, Lancashire's captain, hit a season's best 68 then took the first three Durham wickets.

Things looked bleak for Durham at 35 for 3 in reply to 196, especially as the former Lancashire player Nick Speak had to be helped off with a knee injury after taking a diving catch. But Jon Lewis and Paul Collingwood stopped the rot to take them to 73 for 3 at tea. While Lancashire were without their three England one-day men, Durham had three front-line bowlers injured. Martin Speight's illness allowed Andrew Pratt to make his championship debut behind the stumps.

Two bowlers making their first championship appearances of the season, Lancashire's Paul Ridgway and Durham's Neil Killeen, seized their chances in contrasting style. Ridgway, without a run in his two previous first- class games, made 35 and helped Akram put on 67 for the ninth wicket, while Killeen took a career-best 5 for 49.

With the ball moving off the seam on a lively pitch, the 22-year-old Killeen bowled John Crawley and Neil Fairbrother with successive balls in his second over.

There were a number of rash strokes as Lancashire continued to score at more than four an over, and Wasim had 11 fours in his 44-ball half century.

Wasim, who passed a fitness test on his toe before play, had a spell of 3 for 1 in 12 balls as he bowled eight overs before retiring to the dressing-room.

Tom Moody was run out on 41 and Phil Weston caught by Ed Smith off Min Patel for 60 to curb Worcestershire's charge at Canterbury after they had won the toss against Kent and elected to bat.

It left Abdul Hafeez (22no) and David Leatherdale (20no) to see them through to tea on 211 for four.

Northamptonshire's Tony Penberthy withstood Dougie Brown's opening assault for Warwickshire to remain unbeaten on 110 at tea at Northampton.

Together with David Ripley, Penberthy put on 195 for the fifth wicket before Ripley was caught by Keith Piper off Tim Munton two short of his century.

Earlier Brown blasted away four of Warwickshire's wickets in the first 19 overs to leave the home side struggling on 52 for four before Penberthy and Ripley came to the rescue.