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Sunday, August 04, 2013

Australia still on top despite Pietersen ton but need England follow on to maximise chances T3 D3



England 7/294 (120ov, Pietersen 113/216b/3x6 12x4, Cook 62/177b/7x4, Bell 60/112b/1x6 10x4, Starc 3/75) trail Australia by 233 runs with 3 1st inns wickets in hand: T3/5 D3/5 at Old Trafford Manchester.

Almost every media report of Day 3's play that I've read suggests that Australia are still on top in the match, despite a defensive fight back by several England batters coupled with an aggressive innings by Kevin Pietersen.

 While this view is supported by the facts of the scorecard, the fact that there are only two days of play  (subject to fine weather) left for Australia to secure a victory in a must win - for the Ashes and to a lesser degree the series - match.

Its chances will be much increased if  England follow on. That is, if the Australlian attack can take 3 wickets for no more than 33 runs. 

While this is by no means out of the question, I think it unlikely given that Matt Prior and Stuart Broad are still at the crease and Graeme Swann next in, not exactly a duffer with the bat (no comment about Jimmy Anderson's ability). The Australian quick bowlers have been consistently steady and occasionally, eg Ryan Harris bowling  a well set Ian Bell  with a corker, excellent. A mention too of Brad Haddiin, who I'd thought had been below his best in the series so far: his diving leg side catch of captain Cook was top notch. 

If Australia will has to bat again this will take up more time and leave Michael Clarke to decide how large (or small) a target to set England. While the pitch seems to be holding up reasonably well there is no need for England to go hell for leather for a win. 

A draw looks the likeliest result from here, but this is subject to change by what happens in the first hour or so of play on D4.

<ahref="http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2013/engine/match/566934.html">Scorecard</a>


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