On an extraordinary day at the Emirates ICG, eighteen wickets fell as Durham moved a step closer to lifting their third LV= county championship title in six years with an impressive performance against Nottinghamshire.

The visitors were bowled out for just 78 during the morning session before fighting back strongly with the ball. At one stage Durham were 45-5 before closing on 207-8, a lead of 129.

Mick Newell, Notts director of cricket, said afterwards, “I thought Durham were very good in that first session.

He explained the decision to bat first, under cloudy September skies. “They have batted first here and won five out of seven matches, so we thought the right thing to do would be to bat first and hope the pitch would deteriorate.

“All the stats point to the fact that they like to bat first and usually win so we thought we would try and make a score of between 200 and 250 which we thought would be competitive. As has been proved by their batting it would have been an excellent score.”

Newell is hoping that is side show their competitive spirit during the remainder of the contest.

“There is almost certainly going to be a positive result now,” he said. “Just three points from this match would leave us still down towards the bottom of the bottom of the table, going into the final match but 19 points would pull us clear. We’ve got to come back tomorrow with a positive belief that we can score 300 or 350 in our second innings because that is the only way we can win this now.”

After electing to bat first, at the unusually early start time of 10.15am, Nottinghamshire were blown away for only 78 in just 26.3 overs, with Chris Rushworth (3-24), Graham Onions (3-30) and Jamie Harrison (3-4) doing the damage.

Steven Mullaney (6) fell in just the fourth over, edging Rushworth to Scott Borthwick at second slip, after being spilled by Phil Mustard during the bowler’s previous over.

The wicketkeeper’s blemish was repeated in the ninth over, when Michael Lumb (8) thinned another edge, which Mustard put down. Bowler Onions then had more frustration as Will Smith, in the gully, also missed an opportunity from the next delivery.

Lumb’s reprieve was short-lived as a third chance was eagerly taken by the diving Durham ‘keeper to leave Notts on 22-2.

A stand of 17 between Riki Wessels and James Taylor suppressed the home attack for a couple of overs but then Durham’s two main strike bowlers again got to work to pick up the next four wickets for just 3 runs, in only 1.5 overs.

Wessels (17) was adjudged lbw to Onions, Taylor (6) went the same way, padding up to Rushworth and each bowler produced further catches for Mustard as Patel (0) and Hussey (3) fell cheaply.

Chris Read (11) became the second player to scrape into double figures but was then yoked by Jamie Harrison, attempting a whip through midwicket.

Usman Arshad, starting the game before making way when Ben Stokes arrived on the ground after England duty, uprooted Andre Adams’ leg stick for one before Harrison then mopped up the innings having Luke Fletcher (9) caught by Keaton Jennings and Paul Franks (9) taken at slip by Paul Collingwood.

Jennings and Mark Stoneman gave the home side an extra boost by reaching lunch together, on 16-0.

Notts clearly needed to start the afternoon well and immediately picked up the wickets of both openers. The second ball of the session saw Jennings (9) edge Adams through to slip, where Wessels took the catch and the same fielder then hung on to another opportunity to remove Stoneman (7) off Fletcher.

Adams, imperious, bowled outstandingly well to restrict the batsmen’s scoring and apply continual pressure, as he produced three more dismissals in his opening burst.

Will Smith (2) presented Wessels with a third catch, and then Patel clung on to two stingers at third slip, to send back both Michael Richardson (10) and Ben Stokes (0).

Stokes, having driven 320 miles from Southampton, perished instantly, for a second-ball duck.

Harry Gurney picked up a sixth wicket, having Scott Borthwick (29) caught behind, before Mustard and Collingwood guided Durham into a first innings lead before tea.

The experienced duo, captain and former captain, took control during the third session of the day. Mustard hit five boundaries in seven deliveries, off Fletcher as he accelerated to a half century (72 balls, 8x4).

Taking their partnership into three figures and the overall lead beyond 100, Durham blossomed in the closing stages but then unexpectedly lost Mustard (77), bowled by Mullaney, who picked up his first championship wicket since the home match against the same opposition, back in April.

Celebrating, Mullaney then had Graham Onions (8) taken by Fletcher at mid off, shortly before bad light ended play four overs early.