Nottinghamshire ended the rain-interrupted first day of their LV= County Championship match against Durham at Chester-le-Street on a high after snaring the big wicket of Michael Di Venuto just before the close.
The Tasmanian left-hander made 132 in a chanceless innings out of his side’s total of 272-7.
Steven Mullaney picked up the important wicket, thanks to a smart catch by Chris Read standing up.
“I guess I was just the lucky one that let the ball go,” said Mullaney.
“It was a great piece of wicket-keeping by Ready. I just tried to get the ball up to the bat, as full as I could and hope for a bit of swing and fortunately he nicked it.”
“Andre got four wickets but probably deserved five or even six and Darren again bowled some really good deliveries." Steven Mullaney
Andre Adams was again the pick of the Notts attack, finishing with 4-59. Steven Mullaney paid tribute to him and also Darren Pattinson.
“Andre got four wickets but probably deserved five or even six – and Darren again bowled some really good deliveries," he said.
"We lost our way a little bit during the morning but clawed our way back to end in a decent position really.”
Notts made four changes from the side that defeated Lancashire last week. With both Samit Patel and Alex Hales absent on England Lions duty, first class debuts were handed to both Karl Turner, formerly on the books of his home county Durham, and 18 year old Sam Kelsall.
Paul Franks and Charlie Shreck were recalled to the starting line-up, replacing Neil Edwards and Luke Fletcher in a re-shuffled line-up.
The debutants – and the rest of the visiting side – had to spend the opening day in the field after home skipper Phil Mustard won the toss and elected to bat first.
Shreck began the contest by bowling at Di Venuto, who got the board ticking over with a pleasing clip to the midwicket fence.
Partnered by Will Smith, the former Notts man, the pair reached 30-0 from the first eight overs, at which point Adams was introduced from the Lumley Castle End of the ground.
He and Pattinson began to reign in the scoring a touch, although the shackles were released when Di Venuto deliberately lifted a ball up and over the slips for four.
Kelsall’s first involvement was a fine diving stop at point to deny Smith a boundary but the openers were still together when the fifty came up in the fourteenth over.
The breakthrough came just nine deliveries later. Smith (13) top-edged Pattinson as he tried to pull -and Paul Franks took a well-judged catch at fine leg.
Notts were confident they had two wickets in two balls as Gordon Muchall was rapped on the pads – but in the commotion which preceded the not out decision Adams’ shy at the stumps cost three overthrows.
Di Venuto’s half century came up from 74 deliveries faced and the team total reached 100 in the 24th over.
A flurry of boundaries extended the second wicket stand to 66 but Adams, back for his second spell, then altered the course of the opening session by grabbing two quick wickets.
Muchall (28) was bowled by one that nipped back through the gate and then Paul Collingwood (0) got a thin edge through to Read.
The post-lunch session began under threatening skies and only six overs were played before persistent drizzle swept across the ground, driving the players back into the pavilion at 2pm.
A total of two hours (and 23 overs) were lost before the conditions allowed a resumption. Di Venuto and his new partner, Dale Benkenstein, quickly got into their stride, bringing up the third half century stand of the day.
Benkenstein (12) could consider himself a touch unfortunate, as he became Adams’ third wicket of the day – but it owed everything to Mullaney diving horizontally in the gully to pull off a wonderful catch.
A drive down the ground off Shreck took Di Venuto to his 60th first class century – and the third on his home ground this summer. After watching just 40 minutes of play, the crowd’s frustration was then understandable as the umpires took the players off for tea, with Durham on 184-4.
In the first over after the restart Franks trapped Ben Stokes lbw – and then Adams had Ian Blackwell (0) sharply taken at second slip by Adam Voges.
Phil Mustard, who scored a century in this fixture last season, batted fluently in the final hour of the day, racing to an unbeaten 46 but in the penultimate over he lost Di Venuto.
After just driven Mullaney through the covers, the opener (132) got a firm nick to the next ball and Read’s outstanding glovework meant that Notts could prepare for a new ball assault on the tail at the start of the second day.