If Worcestershire are to mount a credible challenge for promotion from Division Two of this season's Frizzell County Championship Durham is the place where they must prove their worth.

The Pears have not won in the realm's most northern cricketing outpost since 1995, their sole victory coming that year at Darlington, and they go to the Riverside today knowing Durham are no longer lightweights.

Both teams had resounding triumphs in their opening matches last week, Worcestershire beating Derbyshire by ten wickets while Durham accounted for Leicestershire with a day to spare. The only two winning records in the division are on the line.

As much as Durham's Mike Hussey (253 on Durham debut against Leicestershire) and Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki (119 against Northants in the totesport League on Sunday) will be the centre of attention with the bat, the match is all about two pace bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Steve Harmison.

The Sri Lankan left-arm seamer makes his debut for Worcestershire having arrived earlier than expected following the postponement of Sri Lanka's tour to India. David Leatherdale will make way in the only change to the side that won at Derby.

Harmison continues his build-up for the summer's Ashes series, and the Test matches against Bangladesh which precede it, with only his second county match since 2003. After a slow start in the first innings against Leicestershire he found rhythm in the second and took four for 30.

Vaas is joined in the Worcestershire side by fellow left-armer Alamgir Sheriyar who rejoined his former county for four weeks in a loan deal with Kent. Nadeem Malik is 12th man after returning to full fitness following an operation on his shin but fellow pace bowler Kabir Ali remains sidelined after aggravating a calf strain.

Worcestershire benefited from some loose fielding by Derbyshire who spilled six first-innings catches. But offspinner Gareth Batty made a promising start to the season with a second-innings fivewicket haul.

Durham coach Martyn Moxon is expected to give a debut to Michael Lewis, the 30-year-old Victorian rightarm fast-medium bowler who yesterday gained his first full Cricket Australia contract. In three championship matches for Glamorgan last season he took six wickets at 42.16. He has taken 169 first-class wickets at 29.13.

Moxon said: "The team played really well against Leicestershire so obviously we want to recreate the same standard of cricket."