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Sunday, July 14, 2013

England set for victory? T1D4

Australia 280 & 6/174 (71.0 ov, Rogers 52/121b/ 8x4, Watson 46/74b/8x4) need another 137 runs with 4 wkts in hand to beat England 215 & 375 (149.5 ov, Bell 109/267b/15x4 Broad 65/148b/7x4, Pietersen 64/150b/12x4, Cook 50/165b/6x4, Starc 3/81, Siddle 3/85); T1/5 D4/5 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

England gained the upper hand late on what a friend watching in Derbyshire confirmed to be a hot Nottingham day (which is not quite the same as a hot Adelaide day).

Despite taking the last 4 England wickets for 49 and embarking solidly upon the long fourth innings haul towards 311, Australia once again faltered with the bat, leaving it tenuously placed. On the last day they need something less (though maybe not much less) than a miracle, something more than a very good performance, to win.

It was another intriguing day, though at the end disappointing to Australian supporters.

Neither Ian Bell, who moved from 95 to 109, Stuart Broad, 47 to 65, nor the last three  - 9 runs between them- inflicted much more damage upon Australia, for whom Shane Watson started assertively and Chris Rogers solidly.

0/28 at lunch made it nobody's session. In the middle session both Watson and Ed Cowan fell, each of them just as it seemed that the visitors were coming back into contention. Cowan's dismissal, on the stroke of tea to  part timer Joe Root, was particularly galling. Fortunately Rogers was reprieved by the DRS which overturned a decision in the same class as Aleem Dar's yesterday, (for either lbw or caught behind) when it was clear to my unaided eye that the ball had passed nowhere near bat, body or stumps.

2/111 meant Australia were still in the game, if not on top. But  at 124 Rogers, who'd looked very solid in making 52, pulled Jimmy Anderson to midwicket. Michael Clarke, looking uncharacteristically scratchy, and Steven Smith, more restrained than in the first innings, looked to be regrouping, but at 161 Clarke fell to Broad, after another pause from Umpire Dar and subsequent DRS (the Cricinfo description of the dismissal must be one of the longest ever -click on the Scorecard to read it).

Then Graeme Swann, who hitherto had looked steady without looking dangerous, had both Steven Smith and Phil Hughes adjudged lbw - the latter subject a poor call by umpire Dharmasena and upheld by Hawkeye, which showed a slender majority of the ball just pitching in line.

So that left Brad Haddin and Ashton Agar - promoted to no 8, not sent in a nightwatchman I believe, to hold the fort until stumps.

They did this but it's asking a lot for them and the three to follow to get Australia over the line from here. Gideon Haigh, speaking on Offsiders today seemed optimistic about Australia's chamces. Much as I adnire his assessments I disagree with him on this one.

Last might I turned down the TV, turned in and listened on the radio until I fell asleep, waking at 3:14 by the bedside clock to the broad Yorkshire tones of Geoff Boycott.

I don't expect to be doing that again tonight, but will treat myself to a glass or two of red by the fire and wait resignedly to see what happens.
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