Durham v Yorkshire: Shahzad excels but Yorkshire then falter

TIM BRESNAN left Chester-le-Street last night to provide bowling cover for England ahead of tomorrow's third Test against Pakistan at the Oval.

In a pre-arranged move, Bresnan travelled to London after the first day's play and will return to duty in the north-east tomorrow assuming England experience no injury problems.

On yesterday's evidence, England might just as profitably have sent for another Yorkshire bowler.

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Ajmal Shahzad – Bresnan's closest rival for an England place – returned a career-best 5-51 on a day when 17 wickets fell in the north-east.

Bresnan, it must be stressed, bowled with great heart and skill – and certainly much better than figures of 1-58 from 16 overs would suggest.

He beat the bat on several occasions as Yorkshire dismissed Durham for 213 after winning the toss, the visitors replying with 125-7 as Bresnan – promoted to No 3 due to his absence today – chipped in with 25.

But Shahzad's performance was even better and eclipsed his previous best of 4-22.

Gone were the inconsistencies that had plagued him in recent weeks to be replaced by superior rhythm and control.

Given the avalanche of wickets, one might assume everything was in Shahzad's favour, and, indeed, that of all the bowlers.

But although there was some assistance beneath cloudy morning skies which gave way to sunshine after lunch, good bowling combined with generally average batting to leave the contest well-advanced and intriguingly poised.

The tone for an incident-packed day was set by Steve Patterson, Yorkshire's most improved bowler this summer.

Patterson struck the first blow by having Mark Stoneman caught behind in the fourth over during a miserly spell of 7-3-15-1.

Then Shahzad got busy.

With the Durham total 32 in the 11th over, he took two wickets in three balls from the Lumley End as Gordon Muchall was lbw and Dale Benkenstein – so often a thorn in Yorkshire's side – was bowled by a beauty that left him and flattened off-stump.

Shahzad was unlucky not to remove prolific opener Michael Di Venuto in his next over.

The Australian edged him past gully for four in a rare blemish on a day when he carried his bat for a magnificent 117.

Bresnan got in on the act by having Ian Blackwell caught at third slip by Jonathan Bairstow off an airy drive, Durham slipping to 54-5 when Ben Stokes – pushing forward hesitantly – fell lbw to the rampant Shahzad for a sixth-ball duck.

Bresnan gave Phil Mustard a torrid working over just before lunch, which Durham took at 90-5, but it was a different game during the first hour after the break.

Di Venuto and Mustard took a fine stand to 115 before the innings disintegrated from 169-5.

Mustard was caught behind off Richard Pyrah, and Shahzad took two wickets in three balls for the second time as he bowled Liam Plunkett and Mitch Claydon.

Durham should have been ejected for 183 but Bairstow denied Shahzad a sixth victim by dropping last man Steve Harmison at third slip.

The former England bowler added 30 for the 10th wicket with Di Venuto, who was head and shoulders above his team-mates.

Di Venuto had improved his first-class record against Yorkshire to 1,461 runs at 73.05 when Harmison was run out attempting a quick single to Pyrah at cover off Patterson to end the innings.

Claydon captured two wickets early in Yorkshire's reply as Adam Lyth was held in the gully and Jacques Rudolph bowled off an inside-edge.

Bresnan was turned round by Harmison and caught at third slip before Andrew Gale went lbw first ball to Harmison, the Yorkshire captain inviting censure by raising his bat to umpire Barry Dudleston to indicate he had hit the ball.

Bairstow fell lbw to Plunkett and Gerard Brophy was bowled by Blackwell as Yorkshire slipped to 84-6.

It should have been worse but Anthony McGrath was dropped with the total on 99 and Adil Rashid reprieved two runs later.

McGrath, who passed 1,000 Championship runs en route to an unbeaten 28, was spilled on 20 by a diving Mustard off Harmison, while Rashid presented a sitter to Benkenstein at first slip off Plunkett.

Mustard made amends four overs out by catching Rashid off Harmison, who ended with 3-50.