Di Venuto and drizzle hit Yorkshire optimists

Yorkshire 610-6 dec Durham 215-4
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The Independent Online

There are few things less reliable than the English weather and yet, with a wet end to the week widely forecast since this match began on Tuesday, Yorkshire probably went home last wondering whether they had taken their domination of the first two days just a little too far.

Having ploughed on and on until they had 610 runs in the bank after tea on Wednesday, keeping Durham in the field longer than any opponent since they joined the Championship, Yorkshire committed themselves to bowling the title-holders out twice if they were to achieve a third win.

With no Tim Bresnan and no Ajmal Shahzad it would have been a tall task even with uninterrupted play, and even with Tino Best intent on making a debut impact. In the event, they had taken only four of Durham's first-innings wickets, three of them on Wednesday, by the time rain arrived in mid-afternoon yesterday, and the loss of a session and a half probably guarantees a draw.

Still, given that a forecast of two wins and two draws from Yorkshire's four matches would have been laughed off as ridiculous outside their own dressing room, they are unlikely to fret about letting one opportunity slip away.

They might be more concerned that the bowlers on whom they will rely until their World Twenty20 duo return managed to dislodge only Dale Benkenstein in the time available, despite the excitement generated when Adil Rashid took two wickets with consecutive googlies the night before.

They could not deny Michael di Venuto the 51st first-class century of his career, his 13th for Durham, and the Australian will attempt to match Yorkshire's Jacques Rudolph's long occupation of the crease and ensure the home side, who still lead by 395 runs, are not given a chance today.

There does not seem much likelihood of that. The pitch is too slow even for Best to generate anything approaching menace. Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Steve Patterson, representative of the new generation of Yorkshire seam bowlers, both had moments when their luck might have been better. Against batsmen as experienced as Di Venuto and Benkenstein, who put on 145 for the fourth wicket, a bowler needs luck to go his way.

Di Venuto moved along at a higher tempo than had either Rudolph or Anthony McGrath, Yorkshire's other centurion, reaching his hundred off 161 balls, where the home pair had needed 208 and 241 respectively. The bulk of his runs were scored square of the wicket, which says something about how Yorkshire bowled.

Benkenstein, insisting that the knee he strained in the field on Wednesday was not a problem, fell soon after lunch, when David Wainwright, the left-arm spinner, turned one past his bat and Jonathan Bairstow brought off an excellent stumping as Benkenstein strayed momentarily out of his crease.

Neither Wainwright nor Rashid has bowled as well as Yorkshire would have liked in conditions that were expected to suit them best. With Blackwell having joined Di Venuto, and more showers forecast, Durham should escape comfortably.

Today's Fixtures

(11.0 unless stated)

LV County Championship First Division (Final day of four): Lancashire v Kent (Old Trafford), Somerset v Essex (Taunton), Warwickshire v Hampshire (Edgbaston) Yorkshire v Durham (Headingley Carnegie). Second Division (Final day of four): Middlesex v Gloucestershire (Lord's), Northamptonshire v Derbyshire (Northampton).

ICC World twenty20 Group B: New Zealand v Sri Lanka (Guyana, 6.0). Group D: West Indies v Ireland (Guyana, 10.0).

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