Ben Stokes registered his first century in more than a year to give Durham an outside chance of arresting a miserable start to the season by beating Lancashire at Chester-le-Street.
Durham were bottom of the First Division table going into the latest round of matches and conceded a first-innings lead of 68 after opener Paul Horton carried his bat for 49.
But a stand of 132 between Stokes and his fellow all-rounder Paul Collingwood enabled Durham to gain the upper hand, although after Collingwood was leg before to Kyle Hogg for 50, the innings fell away somewhat, the last six wickets going down for 64.
Stokes, superb for his 121, was the penultimate man out when he top-edged spinner Simon Kerrigan.
Lancashire must score exactly 200 to win but suffered a setback when first-innings hero Horton was leg before to Graham Onions, who hopes to impress the selectors before the third Test team is named tomorrow.
Steven Finn has the same motivation to take wickets at Lord's, where Middlesex are in a strong position after five players scored half-centuries against Sussex. None could convert to three figures – Chris Rogers fell two short when he was leg before to Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan was caught behind for 71 after passing 50 for the first time in 23 innings – but Middlesex took a first innings lead of 208 before Finn removed Ed Joyce in his fourth over.
In Division Two, leaders Derbyshire suffered their first defeat of the season, losing by seven wickets to Gloucestershire at Bristol where the Gidman brothers dominated. Alex scored 129 in the first innings and Will took eight wickets in the match.
Michael Thornely, with a maiden first-class century, and Ned Eckersley, with his second, saved Leicestershire from defeat against Glamorgan with a 245-run partnership at Cardiff.
Joe Root's second first-class century, meanwhile, helped Yorkshire attain maximum bonus points against Northamptonshire at Headingley.Reuse content