Nottinghamshire continued their fine start to the Specsavers County Championship season by completing a final day win over Durham at Chester-le-Street.
Set to score a modest 108 for victory, Notts completed their second win of the new campaign by reaching their target in 26.2 overs to complete a 9-wicket success.
Greg Smith led the charge, hitting the winning runs on his way to making 60 not out, from 72 balls.
The home side had been up against it for most of the contest, particularly after conceding a first innings advantage of 143 but they rallied and forced Notts to bat again, thanks to a brilliant hundred from Keaton Jennings.
England’s newest Test opener made an unbeaten 102 and frustrated the visitors’ attack for a further hour on the fourth morning before carrying his bat. Wickets eventually came, though, for Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney and a run out, as Durham were dismissed for 250 in their second innings.
Including the first class win over Cambridge MCCU, Notts have now won three out of three this season, leaving Head Coach Peter Moores to reflect on a hugely satisfying victory.
“I think we’ve played really well here,” he said. “We were put under pressure at 7-3 in our first innings but I really liked the way Samit Patel and Michael Lumb played on the front foot and played so positively. From that moment on, we managed to dominate the game.
Moores said it suited Nottinghamshire to bowl first and praised the surface.
“I think the pitch was pretty blameless throughout. They were two good attacks on it and I think this has been a good advert for the county championship.”
The Head Coach was also full of credit for Luke Fletcher, who made 92 in Nottinghamshire’s first innings, before being run out in unusual circumstances.
“It was a really stiff one,” he said. “Such a strange way to get out, slipping over on the green bit having played so well. He played with an attitude of doggedness that was great for us all to see in the dressing room. He was really gutted when he got out and the lads were gutted for him.”
Excellent work by the groundstaff ensured a prompt start, after rain had decimated the previous day. Durham’s lead was only 58, with three second innings wickets remaining.
Jake Ball and James Pattinson shared the early bowling duties and could have made early inroads but Mark Wood was spilled at midwicket on two.
Steady progress was made by the hosts in the first half an hour of the day but the switch in attack brought about the downfall.
Fletcher removed Wood for 21, aided by a sharp midwicket catch from Jake Libby. At that stage Jennings was on 99 but he soon advanced to three figures, getting there from 201 balls with 16 fours.
Graham Onions got off the mark with an edged single that found its way though the slip cordon but he only scored one more before Gurney rearranged his stumps with an excellent swinging delivery.
Last man Chris Rushworth pushed his first ball into the gaps in the offside and called for a risky two. Ball’s rapid pick up and accurate throw made the second run impossible as Chris Read whipped off the bails to end the Durham innings.
Needing 108, Nottinghamshire’s openers began their chase at 12.10pm and were rarely troubled throughout the remainder of the session.
Greg Smith highlighted it by pulling both Onions and Wood for effortless boundaries, as well as straight-driving the latter for another high-quality four.
The run-rate accelerated at the start of the afternoon, with the floodlights now on and the possibility of some showers.
Libby rotated the strike and punished width, while Smith followed up his 73 at Fenner’s with a fluent 50 from 68 balls with eight fours.
Nottinghamshire’s first win on the ground since 2012 was within sight when the home county made a breakthrough as Paul Coughlin found a way past Libby’s stumps to bowl the Cornish opener for 39.
Samit Patel was quickly into his stride and hit two fours in his 10 to condemn Durham to their first defeat at The Riverside since 2015.
Nottinghamshire’s victory earned them 22 points, the same as their haul at Leicestershire a week ago. They are next in action on Friday 21st April 2017 when they host Sussex at Trent Bridge in the Specsavers County Championship.