Australia captain Michael Clarke led from the front as England suffered their share of Decision Review System (DRS) angst on the first day of the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
Australia were 180 for three at yesterday’s tea in Manchester, with Clarke, who won the toss, 55 not out.
Steven Smith, who survived two unsuccessful England reviews as the hosts used up all their challenges for the innings, was 20 not out after so far helping Clarke add an unbroken 51 for the fourth wicket.
The tourists lost just one wicket in the session when opener Chris Rogers, in sight of a maiden Test hundred, was lbw to off-spinner Graeme Swann for 84.
In a match Australia, 2-0 down, had to win to regain the Ashes – a drawn series would see holders England retain the urn – Clarke opted to bat first after winning the toss despite his side being dismissed for just 128 in the first innings of their 347-run second Test defeat at Lord’s.
Although Australia had recalled David Warner, usually an opening batsman, they stuck with all-rounder Shane Watson and left-hander Rogers as their first wicket duo.
The pair responded by putting on 76 before Watson was caught at first slip by England captain Alastair Cook for 19 off first change Tim Bresnan after James Anderson, on his Lancashire home ground, and Stuart Broad had seen several good outswingers go unrewarded.
The 35-year-old Rogers scored briskly to complete a 49-ball fifty, including 10 fours, with two successive boundaries off Anderson.
And 76 for one became 82 for two when left-hander Usman Khawaja, playing forward to a sharply turning delivery from Swann, was caught behind by wicketkeeper Matt Prior for one.
Khawaja immediately reviewed on-field umpire Tony Hill’s decision.
The Hot Spot thermal imaging did not appear to show an edge but there was a noise on audio.
After several minutes’ study, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena decided there was not enough evidence to overturn Hill’s verdict and Khawaja had to go as Swann took his 14th wicket of the series — the most by any bowler on either side.
Clarke, caught at leg-slip off the bowling of part-time spinner Joe Root at Lord’s, almost went the same way Thursday as Swann, utilising the bounce of the pitch, produced a turning ball that looped over Jonathan Trott.
Smith was on nought when Swann had an lbw appeal rejected by New Zealand official Hill. As the DRS indicated the ball was only clipping leg stump, Hill’s verdict was upheld by Sri Lanka’s Dharmasena.
Meanwhile Clarke showed why he is one of the world’s best players of spin by several times advancing down the pitch to drive Swann for boundaries on his way to a 67-ball fifty featuring seven fours.
Prior was convinced he had caught Smith, on 18, off Anderson and England reviewed Marais Erasmus’s original not out decision only for technology to prove the South African right.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.
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