Durham ripped through MCC's batting line-up for the second day in a row to move within three wickets of a decisive victory on day three of the county curtain-raiser at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
If MCC's labours in the field on Monday suggested the pink ball being trialled in this prestigious fixture offers little for the bowlers, Durham have gone about proving the opposite ever since, rolling their opponents for 162 yesterday and leaving them 156 for seven at stumps. That left MCC 370 runs adrift of a nominal target of 526, with Scott Borthwick and Ian Blackwell sharing six wickets in the final session.
Steve Kirby started with a fiery spell this morning. First he beat Blackwell with a bouncer and then clattered Will Smith on the helmet with another short-pitched delivery. Jon Lewis, who has been struggling with a thigh problem for much of the match, then came on first change and proceeded to bowl Smith via the bottom edge with his first ball of the innings.
After Blackwell and Phil Mustard fell, debutant Ben Stokes added just seven before he was pinned lbw by MCC skipper Alex Gidman as Durham stumbled to 74 for five. Mustard's dismissal brought day one centurion Kyle Coetzer and Callum Thorp together. Despite the awkward twilight period closing in, Smith delayed the inevitable declaration by a handful of overs before calling his men in at 228 for six.
MCC soon set about replicating their implosion on day two, with Blackwell taking the crucial wickets of Dawid Malan and David Sales. The result was now a formality but Lewis (32no) and Murtagh (27no) forged a solid eighth-wicket stand to ensure the match would reach day four.