He has played more significant innings in his time, for sure, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul's unbeaten 117 for County Championship First Division leaders Durham yesterday could prove to be decisive as the north-eastern county seek a second title in two seasons. His runs enabled Durham to build a first-innings lead of 98 against Somerset after swing had reduced them to 166 for 6 in reply to the visitors' 174.
Needing to win to have any chance of maintaining a title challenge, Somerset reached 41 for 0 in their second innings before bad light, then rain, ended play.
Only Liam Plunkett with 32 and Dale Benkenstein (30) offered any support to Chanderpaul when he resumed on 49 with the score on 110 for 3. With the ball swinging and the pitch also offering some help, batting was never easy and Benkenstein did the bulk of the scoring as he and Chanderpaul battled through the first 90 minutes.
The first run of the day came off the 20th ball, which the West Indian pushed into the covers for the single which took him to 50 off 91 balls with seven fours. Only 26 runs were scored in the first hour, but the rate was doubled in the next 30 minutes before Benkenstein's exit sparked a mini-collapse.
The former captain cut Zander de Bruyn to backward point, then Ian Blackwell followed his five-wicket haul by lasting only two balls against his former colleagues. He tried to force both deliveries away off the back foot wide of off stump and after failing to connect with the first he edged the second to Craig Kieswetter. Then Phillips picked up his third wicket when Phil Mustard pushed forward and edged to first slip to depart for two.
Durham had slipped from 161 for 3 to 166 for 6 and were still eight runs adrift, but Plunkett played some fine back-foot shots through the off side as he contributed 32 to a stand of 69.
Chanderpaul added only 27 runs in the morning, but when Arul Suppiah's left-arm spin was introduced he lofted a four wide of long-on to move into the 90s and wasted no time in moving on to his century. On 97 he was beaten by Peter Trego, but two balls later he drove his 12th four through the covers to complete his century off 193 balls.
The new ball was taken with the score on 220 for 6 and after one over came a 25-minute break for rain. On the resumption the game made rapid progress as Durham added 43 runs in eight overs for the loss of Plunkett before the last three wickets went down for five runs.
After Plunkett was bowled by an in-swinger from Willoughby, who took 5 for 56, Callum Thorp made a swift 15 before fending to third slip. Graham Onions was caught behind for a duck and Steve Harmison made one before edging Trego to give wicketkeeper Kieswetter his fourth catch.
Suppiah and Marcus Trescothick survived six overs each from Onions and Harmison, who is still seeking his first wicket of the match.
Liam Plunkett's score yesterday, Durham's next best after the ton by Chanderpaul.