Honours were pretty much even at the halfway point of the curtain-raising fixture between the MCC and county champions Durham in Abu Dhabi.
Lancashire opener Luis Reece helped ensure the MCC eked out a 34-run first innings lead as they posted a total of 282, but Durham ended the day five runs ahead as they closed on 39-1 in their second innings.
Reece (85) shared a second-wicket stand of 112 with Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond (54) on a fluctuating second day at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
But Durham leg-spinner Scott Borthwick added figures of 3-95 to his half-century on Sunday, and then Jamie Harrison (5-60) did the late damage as MCC nonetheless reached 282 all out in reply to 248.
Left-hander Reece, who impressed up the order at Old Trafford towards the end of last season, lost his opening partner and England Test aspirant Sam Robson lbw to promising all-rounder Usman Arshad - to end a half-century stand.
Bell-Drummond then hit seven fours in his 50 as MCC moved to 169-2.
But wickets began to fall regularly - Borthwick chipping in first with those of Reece, MCC captain Virender Sehwag and Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Sehwag was caught at mid-on and Reece was then the first of two batsmen to fall on 213.
He had hit 12 fours from 196 balls by then, however, and seventh-wicket pair Ollie Rayner and Kyle Hogg ensured MCC's lead before 23-year-old left-arm seamer Harrison ran through the tail for only his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
There was then still time, in just eight overs before the close, for Durham to recover from the early loss of Keaton Jennings - bowled by Hogg for a duck - to race back in front by the time stumps were drawn.