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County edge step closer to survival
6:48pm Tuesday 13th September 2011 in Reports
AN innings of 124 by Vikram Solanki helped guide Worcestershire to within a whisker of LV= County Championship Division One safety before they collapsed from 255-3 to 288 all out against Durham at Chester-le-Street.
The visitors needed to reach 300, giving them the third batting point, but events at the Rose Bowl, where fellow relegation candidates Hampshire are playing title-chasing Warwickshire, mean there is no more likelihood of the County going down than there is of Durham winning the title.
It will be beyond Durham once leaders Warwickshire have avoided defeat, which they surely must after amassing 493.
Equally, Hampshire have next to no chance of the win they would need to send Worcestershire down.
Trailing by 24, Durham had 18 overs to bat in their second innings and reached 51 without loss, despite the first runs off the admirable Alan Richardson not coming until the fifth ball of his seventh over.
Worcestershire did not lose a wicket in the morning and only two in the afternoon, but the last five went down for five runs to the new ball, which was still six overs away when Paul Collingwood suddenly took two wickets in three balls in the first over after tea.
The collapse was started by a stunning catch from Dale Benkenstein, who leapt to cling on one-handed at mid-wicket to get rid of Alexei Kervezee for 43.
Two balls later left-hander Matt Pardoe sliced Collingwood to gully then Solanki and Gareth Andrew added 28 before the new ball produced extravagant bounce and four edged catches.
Solanki departed for 124 when he fended Callum Thorp to second slip and the rest quickly followed, Thorp picking up three more wickets inside two overs.
Both he and Graham Onions had been out of luck in the morning, when Durham kept four slips and two gullies for most of the session.
The breakthrough finally came when left-hander James Cameron tried to paddle Ian Blackwell round the corner and was bowled for 74.
He had put on 138 with Solanki, who had 11 fours in his 72-ball half-century but showed unusual restraint in adding only 42 during the afternoon.
When leg-spinner Scott Borthwick was finally introduced, Solanki edged him for four and then drove him for six over extra cover to reach 99.
He went down the pitch to the next ball and survived a stumping chance before turning the next ball just out of short leg’s reach to complete his third hundred of the season off 186 balls.
Elsewhere, Warwickshire, for whom a win would guarantee the championship, will now have one eye on the progress of top-of-the-table rivals Lancashire, who could yet pip them to the crown if they can defeat Somerset and Warwickshire fail to see off hosts Hampshire.