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Cricket: Durham left feeling flat as spoils are shared.

Byline: By Luke Edwards

IF Steve Harmison was feeling flat following the news that a back injury will rule him out of tomorrow's Friends Provident Trophy final, the mood was shared by the rest of Durham's bowlers yesterday as Surrey comfortably held on for a draw in the County Championship.

Durham had set Surrey an unlikely 447 to win after some magnificent power strokes from Liam Plunkett had given the England player a 42-ball half-century. But with Harmison confined to drinks duty, Durham were unable to blast their way through the visitors' defence, with both sides shaking hands on a draw with nine overs left to play and seven Surrey wickets remaining.

Plunkett's knock, though, was a memorable highlight of an otherwise frustrating day and the Teessider will be able to bore his teammates with the story of how he smashed the spin bowling of Harbhajan Singh for four sixes in one over all the way down to Lords's today.

His big-hitting helped add 72 runs to Durham's overnight total, but when the home side failed to take an early wicket during a dangerous opening spell from Ottis Gibson, it never looked as though they would have the firepower to take 10 wickets in a day in Harmison's absence. The bowling attack will have to regain its fizz for the Trophy final against Hampshire, although the weather forecast suggests they could be in for another frustrating day, with rain expected to fall over the capital for much of Saturday.

Graham Onions is the favourite to replace Harmison in the team for the final and the Gateshead-born fast bowler spent much of the day practising in the nets at the Riverside yesterday, while his rival for a place in the side, Paul Wiseman, toiled in the middle.

Wiseman did manage to take one wicket, when Mark Butcher edged to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard, but generally Surrey's batsman, who understandably took few risks with their shot selections, were comfortable as they batted to save the game.

One snorting Plunkett delivery was enough to surprise opener Scott Newman, caught by Gibson, while the West Indian took the key wicket of Mark Ramprakash with a beautiful delivery which left the right-hander and clipped his off-stump.

With the country's leading run-maker back in the pavilion, Durham briefly looked capable of cutting through the rest of Surrey's middle order, but there was no dramatic victory to celebrate.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2007
Words:400
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