A BRILLIANT hundred by Paul Collingwood allowed Durham to set title-chasing Nottinghamshire a victory target of 375 in their LV= County Championship clash at Chester-le-Street.
The visitors’ chase did not start well and looked well beyond them when they slipped to 66 for three, but Riki Wessels kept them afloat with an unbeaten 77 as they reached 197 for four - leaving a further 178 to be scored on the final day today with six wickets standing.
The second man in Division One after Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth to 1,000 championship runs, Wessels plundered 66 in the evening sunshine during a final session in which the only wicket to fall - that of Michael Lumb - came as a result of a spectacular catch.
Lumb had led a charmed life in reaching 58, but his luck ran out when a fierce slash was plucked out of the air by Calum MacLeod, leaping high to his right at gully.
It gave Irishman Peter Chase his first wicket in first-class cricket, but he and fellow youngster Paul Coughlin came under fire from Wessels.
Having played himself in carefully, he hit Coughlin for three fours in an over as he passed 50 of 78 balls with 10 fours.
After recovering from 83 for five, Durham reached the unexpected heights of 309, despite losing Coughlin in the day’s third over.
They were 261 ahead with three wickets standing at the outset and only eight were added before Coughlin edged a good delivery from Jake Ball to Chris Read to depart for 39.
That brought in Chris Rushworth, who showed he can handle a bat in making 46 at Taunton in May, but had since passed 10 only once. He knuckled down, and the only worry for Durham was that the ease with which he played confirmed that batting was much more straightforward than on the first two days.
He allowed himself the occasional indulgence, twice hitting Gary Keedy to the boundary in front of mid-wicket, but showed unusual application in making 45 in a stand of 84.
Five minutes before the scheduled lunch break he left a straight one from Ball, which hit his off stump.
With nine wickets down, lunch was delayed, but Collingwood ensured that Chase saw very little of the strike as he collected the 17 runs he still needed to complete his first championship century for two years.
After Ajmal Shahzad conceded 46 runs in six overs on Monday, Nottinghamshire did not risk him again until Collingwood was on 96.
With eight men on the boundary, he twice pushed towards long-on and took two runs to reach his century off 219 balls. The he tried a scoop shot off the next ball and was bowled.
Rushworth followed his fine knock with an excellent nine-over spell in which he had Lumb in all kinds of trouble.
With his score on 17 the left-hander had three close shaves in one over, surviving a confident lbw appeal then edging two successive balls through the slips for four.
Then Lumb played and missed a couple of times and Rushworth had to be content with having Steven Mullaney lbw.
For the second time in the match James Taylor was lbw to a ball which moved into him only slightly. He had made six when he padded up to Coughlin.
Samit Patel made 11 before driving a return catch off the fourth ball when John Hastings returned for a second spell.
But in the remaining 35 overs Lumb’s was the only wicket to fall, with James Franklin contributing 26 to an unbroken stand of 76 with Wessels.