Durham cement table-topper Ajaz Patel claims ten-for

Durham's Ajaz Patel delivered a standout performance

Durham confirmed their position as Second Division leaders with a 125-run LV= Insurance County Championship triumph over Gloucestershire at Bristol, with Ajaz Patel finishing with match statistics of 10 for 209.

Marcus Harris, who scored his 26th first-class century, and Josh Shaw, whose 44 to a tenacious eighth-wicket partnership of 88 was a career-best first-class total, kept the visitors wait.

Harris batted well to finish undefeated on 122 off 195 balls, with 15 fours. But it was never going to be enough as New Zealand Test left-arm spinner Patel followed up his five for 113 in the first innings with five for 96.

On the last day, Gloucestershire were dismissed for 300 before lunch and are still looking for their first victory. They earned four points from the game, while Durham gained 23 points from their fourth win in six games to extend their advantage at the top of the standings.

With 181 for six at the beginning of the game, the hosts needed an improbable 245 to win. The fact that Harris was unbeaten at 71 and that the batting surface was calm gave his team some hope.

With his score at 12, Matt Taylor missed a defensive prod and was pinned lbw by Patel, who bowled the first 11 overs of the day from the Pavilion End and assisted Harris in bringing the total up to 21.

When he edged a ball at ankle height just beyond of slip Matthew Potts’ reach on 90, Harris appeared to survive a difficult opportunity from Patel.

The left-handed opener’s ability to advance down the field and hit Patel over mid-on for the 13th boundary was all the luck he needed to reach three figures off 163 balls.

Patel was hit to the long-on boundary by Shaw, who then pulled Ben Raine for another four as he steadily gained confidence and solid support.

Shaw’s previous best first-class score of 42 was surpassed with a single to square-leg off Bas de Leede, but he had only added one more run when he was caught at slip by Potts off a Patel ball that turned from outside leg stump.

Shaw had knocked down six fours and a pulled six off Scott Borthwick, but his exit put an end to any optimism that the struggling Gloucestershire team could have had.

Potts, who finished with three for 43 from 19.2 overs, only had Zaman Akhter for four deliveries before he bowled him.

After hitting a few courageous boundaries, Ajeet Dale was last man out and was caught at cover, giving Patel his fifth wicket of the innings and tenth overall.

Despite the fact that Harris emerged victorious, his heroic efforts only served to emphasize his teammates’ weaknesses in the field of batting in an injury-riddled squad.

Durham will enter the transition to T20 cricket with great confidence after another strong performance.