County championship: Ton-up van Zyl guides Sussex to vital victory over Durham

Stiaan van Zyl / Picture by Getty Images
Stiaan van Zyl / Picture by Getty Images

Stiaan van Zyl scored an unbeaten century to guide Sussex to their first Specsavers County Championship Division Two victory of the season, defeating Durham by six wickets at Emirates Riverside

Beginning the final day on 144-3, the visitors still had a challenge to score the 68 runs that would carry them over the line on a gloomy morning. Van Zyl contiuned brilliant knock second innings, defying the hosts with a resilient performance before upping the ante.

Laurie Evans did offer a chance in the morning session when he drilled a Chris Rushworth delivery straight to Jack Burnham at cover. A wicket could have exposed Sussex's batting line-up to a nervy chase, but Burnham failed to grasp the opportunity - epitomising his side's performance over the course of the match.

Evans made the most of his second life, reaching fifty from 104 deliveries. Van Zyl then reached three figures with a nudge down to fine leg. Salisbury removed Evans for 51, but Ben Brown knocked off the winning runs to guide Sussex over the line, capping a fine performance on the road from his side.

Durham will be frustrated by the manner of their defeat, failing to capitalise on advantageous positions in the match. They reduced the visitors to 71-7 in their first innings following fine bowling from James Weighell and Rushworth. However, Wells, who played the innings of the match with an unbeaten 98, managed to grind out 131 runs for the final three wickets, bringing Sussex within 22 runs of Durham's first-innings total.

Durham v sussex day one
Durham v Sussex day two
Durham v Sussex day three

After losing quick wickets on the morning of day three, Durham appeared to be grinding out a solid partnership with Gareth Harte and Ned Eckersley at the crease. However, after scoring back-to-back boundaries, Eckersley smashed a delivery from medium-pacer Tom Haines straight at Evans.

The wicket sparked a collapse as Liam Trevaskis and Ben Raine fell within the space of three deliveries. Although Harte combined with the Durham lower order, the target of 212 set for the visitors was always going to be vulnerable to one significant partnership.

After losing Phil Salt and Haines, Wells and Van Zyl combined with a stand of 83 to see off the threat of the new ball and make significant inroads into the required total. Matt Salisbury did give Durham brief hope when he dismissed Wells for 41. Van Zyl continued to thwart the home side, reaching his fifty from 88 deliveries, while Evans provided a good foil at the other end to whittle down the target.

Durham were almost handed a lifeline on the fourth day when Evans picked out Burnham at cover, only for the fielder to put down a simple chance. Sussex picked their moments to find the boundary and displayed the composure out in the middle. Van Zyl was the foundation of their success, reaching his first Championship century of the term from 149 deliveries. Evans fell with only one needed to break their stand of 112, but Brown was on hand to knock off the single required to confirm the win.