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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not over yet, but how confident would England be? Day 2 Third Test

Australia, now 148 ahead with 9 second innings wickets in hand, appear to be grinding England down and heading for victory. The best England can hope for must be an Australian collapse in the first session on Day 3 or, more plausibly (despite Adelaide), holding out for a draw after Australia has batted them out of the game.

The first scenario requires a repeat of England's improved first innings bowling performance, the second a combination of Australia batting too long and brilliant performances from at least two and solid performances from each of the other England batsmen.

The key session was, as everyone who ventured an opinion (including me) suggested, the first. The scorecard says enough: 2/51 overnight to 6/122 at lunch.

How did it happen? Good Australian bowling, notably from (as expected) Stuart Clark and (as not expected) Andrew Symonds, backed up by tight and often brilliant fielding (Symonds again). Some of the England batsmen, to put it as tactfully as possible, didn't help their own cause. This was underscored by the rally of the last wicket pair which took the total past 200 and to within what optimists would see as a respectable distance of Australia's.

Matthew Hoggard's bowling of Langer between bat and pad with the first ball of Australia's second innings raised English hopes and Australia's hackles. For the rest of the day Australia steadily continued to assert their superiority. By stumps, superiority was approaching dominance.


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