Mark Stoneman’s second consecutive Championship century gave title-chasing Durham the upper hand after day one against Warwickshire at Chester-le-Street.
The opener continued his purple patch as he top scored with 112, following his century against Yorkshire and 89 not out against Leicestershire (T20) in the last two home games.
If you get 300 on the board in the first innings at Chester-le-Street, you are definitely in the game.
Scott Borthwick and Ryan Pringle both got 50s but tight bowling and some careless shots meant that the hosts failed to capitalise on their strong start.
The visitors, who were without the injured Boyd Rankin and Chris Wright, managed to wrestle some control after lunch to restrict the hosts to 314 from 184-1.
“If you get 300 on the board in the first innings at Chester-le-Street, you are definitely in the game,” Stoneman said.
“If our lads are on song, I can see us knocking them over for about 200.”
Although Keaton Jennings failed to clear a dozen for the fifth time in his last six Championship innings, Durham’s two leading run scorers this season ensured that they made
the most of a good toss won by Paul Collingwood.
The pair put on 153, which equalled the county’s highest second wicket partnership against Warwickshire, previously set by Stoneman and Gordon Muchall at Edgbaston in 2010.
Borthwick negotiated a tricky start before crossing 5,000 first-class runs with an exquisite flick through mid-on.
Two overs later, Stoneman brought up his fifth 50 in his last seven matches in all competitions with a majestic pull shot in front of square leg.
Despite Jeetan Patel’s tight bowling, runs were flowing for the hosts, whose decision to bat looked like a wise one on a pitch that offered little assistance to the bowlers.
A cut behind square off Patel brought Stoneman’s third Championship hundred this season.
Chris Woakes, making his season debut posed the most questions and was rewarded with the wicket of Borthwick, which started the batting collapse as the hosts lost four wickets for 35 runs before tea.
Tom Milnes, who was hit out of the attack before lunch, came back to pick up the crucial wicket of Stoneman.
Michael Richardson, who was almost caught at mid-wicket before getting off the mark, perished the next ball and Gordon Muchall followed soon after.
Collingwood brought up the side’s second batting point with a boundary but departed two overs later, when he was wrongly deemed lbw after a huge inside edge.
John Hastings didn’t make Hannon-Dalby pay for dropping him at mid-off as he was dismissed two balls later, attempting an extravagant slog sweep.
Although the last three wickets added 58 runs and Pringle got his second consecutive Championship 50, the hosts were bowled out after getting their third bonus point.
Warwickshire’s openers safely negotiated until the close of play but both teams still have a lot of work to do to win this game and close the gap on leaders Yorkshire
Stoneman said: “You can’t look too far ahead and forecast what this result means at the end of the season.”
He added: “If we win seven from seven, we are going to be up there, competing with Yorkshire.”