MANCHESTER: Australia built a lead of nearly 300 against England when rain forced an early tea on the fourth day of the third Test at Old Trafford yesterday.
But the tourists had yet to declare in a match they have to win to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes.
Australia were 137 for five in their second innings, 296 runs in front, with captain Michael Clarke 14 not out, following his superb first innings 187, and Brad Haddin yet to score.
A draw would see England, 2-0 up in the five-Test series, retain the Ashes and Clarke would have been mindful of the need to give his bowlers enough time to take 10 second innings wickets.
England complicated Australia’s victory bid by avoiding the follow-on earlier after resuming on 294 for seven following Kevin Pietersen’s impressive 113 on Saturday.
They needed 34 runs to make Australia bat again and the eighth wicket duo of Matt Prior (30) and Stuart Broad (32) knocked them off with a flurry of boundaries in an eighth-wicket stand of 58.
Broad scored all but four of his runs in boundaries before he was caught behind off spinner Nathan Lyon.
Prior was last man out in England’s first innings 368 when he top-edged a pull off Peter Siddle to David Warner at point to give the paceman figures of four for 63 in 29.3 overs.
England’s eighth-wicket partnership then combined to remove Australia opener Chris Rogers for just 12 when Broad took the outside edge and wicketkeeper Prior held a good catch.
Warner, repeatedly booed by home fans after missing the first two Tests of this series for his bar-room attack on England’s Joe Root, was promoted to open alongside Rogers as Australia sought quick runs.
The left-hander made 41 off 57 balls before he was caught in the deep by Root off Tim Bresnan before Usman Khawaja (24) was bowled round his legs by off-spinner Graeme Swann.
Regular opener Shane Watson, batting down the order, uppercut Bresnan straight to Pietersen at third man before a mix-up saw Steven Smith needlessly run out for a run-a-ball 19 after he’d driven both Bresnan and Swann for six.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.
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