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    Worcestershire faces an uphill battle as Bedingham ton burns down
Worcestershire faces an uphill battle as Bedingham ton burns down
Ryan Higgins took 7 wickets across both innings prior to his match-winning 33 not out. Source: Getty Images

Worcestershire faces an uphill battle as Bedingham ton burns down

Centurion David Bedingham and Scott Borthwick put Durham in a strong position to secure their first win of the season in the Vitality County Championship clash between the two promoted sides at Chester Road.

Their bowlers went to work in the morning session, picking up the last six Worcestershire wickets to build a first-innings lead of 60 on a wicket that still offered some assistance to the seamers but with enough pace to encourage strokeplay.

Bedingham and Durham skipper Borthwick then went to town in a third-wicket partnership of 195 from just 34 overs.

Bedingham continued the form he had shown following his Test breakthrough for South Africa in the winter with 56 on debut against India and scores of 39, 110, 32 and 87 against New Zealand. His second fifty came off just 24 balls as he raced to three figures from 79 deliveries with five sixes and 11 fours.

By the close, Durham had extended their total to 379.

For Durham's attack, it was a welcome return to conditions that offered some support after the Edgbaston cemetery, where Warwickshire had amassed 698 for 3 against the Kookaburra ball and a short boundary.

Ben Raine and Matthew Potts had shared figures of 0 for 206 on the previous occasion but showed their quality here. With a composed 61, Jake Libby was again the main contributor to Worcestershire's modest total. He has amassed 400 runs at an average of 100 in the last four Championship matches between the end of last season and the start of 2024.

But quick runs from Bedingham and Borthwick in the final session mean Worcestershire face a daunting target on Sunday if they are to avoid their first setback of the season.

Worcestershire resumed on 78 for 4 with much of the responsibility resting on the shoulders of Libby and Jason Holder if they were to get within touching distance of Durham's total.

Holder did the bulk of the early damage. He drove Raine and Potts for boundaries and then pulled the former for a big six over midwicket. But Raine was not to be denied as he struck in successive overs to get the visitors going.

Holder was bowled after a push forward and then Matthew Waite had no trouble with the scorers when he nibbled at a delivery and was caught behind.

Libby completed an accomplished 101-ball half-century with seven fours and new batsman Nathan Smith survived a chance at first slip off Paul Coughlin on 11.

Libby's determined knock ended on 61 after a rare error of judgement when he shouldered arms and was bowled by Coughlin. Josh Baker then tried to duck a Bas de Leede bouncer but the ball bounced off his helmet and onto his stumps.

Joe Leach took a superb one-handed catch to his right at midwicket off Bedingham, who finished off the innings when Adam Finch was lbw to leg.

Smith remained unbeaten on 33 and then made the first breakthrough with the ball when Durham resumed for a second time after lunch. Alex Lees played back and could only guide Smith to Holder at second slip.

Leach moved to the Railway End after an initial burst of four overs and dismissed Colin Ackermann, who nicked through to Gareth Roderick. But Durham skipper Borthwick and Bedingham settled in and had few worries as they built a sizeable lead.

Bedingham was the more fluent, scoring at a run a ball for long spells, but it was Borthwick who reached his half-century first, hitting five boundaries off 89 balls.

Two consecutive sixes from Bedingham off Leach helped him to a 55-ball fifty and he accelerated to three figures as spinner Baker conceded successive maximums.

It took a run-out to end the partnership when Borthwick failed to beat Smith's throw to the non-striker's end at deep midwicket while attempting a second run.

Paul Coughlin feathered a Finch delivery to Roderick attempting a square cut and Bedingham's superb knock ended on 138 when he sliced Smith on the off side and Adam Hose took an excellent catch at cover.

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