DURHAM’S John Hastings believes that tomorrow’s first session is make or break for both sides.
Hastings said: “The first session tomorrow is massive for both sides.
“Big stands down the order in both first innings showed that you can score runs when the balls gets a bit softer.
“So for us it’s crucial that we take wickets while the ball is still fairly hard in the next 20 overs.
“We wouldn’t want to chase more than 250 in the fourth innings.”
Burly Australian Hastings dug Durham out of a hole with the bat on the second day of their LV County Championship match at home to Sussex, but was out of luck with the ball.
In what remains an evenly-balanced contest, with Sussex 110 ahead on 114 for three in their second innings, it was strange that the best two spells of the day went unrewarded.
The first came from Matt Hobden, who shrugged off overnight figures of 2-0-29-0 to find bounce and movement during seven luckless overs in the morning.
But it was even more difficult to comprehend how Hastings didn’t take a wicket during a nine-over spell of sustained accuracy.
As often happens, Craig Cachopa’s charmed life ended when Hastings rested and the batsman lobbed an attempted pull off Graham Onions to mid-off.
Going in at No 10 for Durham when three wickets had fallen on 222, Hastings made 72 to earn a first innings lead of four.
After Sussex had put on 164 for the last wicket, Hastings shared a ninth-wicket partnership of 116 with Usman Arshad before both fell to Steve Magoffin with the new ball.
The rest of the wickets were shared by Ajmal Shahzad, continuing his fine start with four for 72, and Oliver Robinson, continuing his dream debut with four for 71 after the previous day’s century.
He also held the catch at third man when Hastings was last out, slicing a massive swipe which hinted at little faith in Onions.
After 438 runs were scored on the frenetic first day, Durham had to graft through a tough morning session against some fine bowling.
The score moved on from the overnight 103 for two to 189 for five with Michael Richardson falling lbw to Shahzad for 37 off the penultimate ball before lunch.
Scott Borthwick needed attention after being struck on the helmet by Hobden and struggled on before departing for 23 when he edged Robinson to Ben Brown.
Calum MacLeod sparked the afternoon slide when, on 22, he drove lavishly at Shahzad and edged to the wicketkeeper. Phil Mustard poked a catch to third slip two balls later, then Robinson found extra bounce to have Paul Collingwood caught at second slip.
Hastings settled in carefully before going for his shots and went to his 64-ball 50 with a neat clip off his toes for his eighth four. Durham had just taken the lead when Arshad fell for 35, driving Magoffin to mid-off in the first over with the new ball.
With little sign of swing in the evening chill, Chris Nash and Ed Joyce put on 55 for Sussex before Chris Rushworth moved one sharply away to have Nash caught behind. He also had Joyce lbw for 30 when aiming for mid-wicket.
Matt Machan began briskly, as in the first innings, before knuckling down to reach 29 at the close.