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Friday, July 31, 2015

Australia narrowly avoid defeat in two days...but still face big loss: T3D2

Australia 136 & 7/168 (55ov, Warner 77/62b/11x4, Nevill 37*, Finn 13-3-45-5) lead England 281 (67.1ov, Root 63/75b/1x6 9x4, Moeen Ali 59/78b/11x4, Bell 53, Cook 34, Broad 31, Lyon 3/36, Hazlewood 3/74, Johnson 2/66, Starc 2/71) by 23 runs with 3 2inns wkts in hand: T3,5 D2/5 at Edgbaston.

When Mitchell Johnson removed Johnny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in the space of three balls, England were 5/142, a lead of only 9. But that turned out to be the high water mark of Australia's day as the bowlers were unable to confine England to a total around 200-220 which the seam bowler friendly conditions (albeit with more sunshine) seemed to the experts and me to be both desirable and achievable.

But it was not to be. Joe Root took his score to 63, Jos Buttler went cheaply before Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad, the latter looking more comfortable with the bat rhan he'd done for some time, added 87 for the 8th wicket: no record (as far as I know) but very significant in the context of this Test.

Australia batted again, Chris Rogers fell cheaply but David /Warner played his natural game and raised hopes ( or wishful thoughts) that he might lead the team to set a target which would challenge England batting last.

But this wasn't to be either.  Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (a real worry this), Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh compiled 17 runs between them as Steven Finn, who was deemed unselectable during England's last tour here (18 months ago), cleaned them all up: 5/92. When Warner fell to Jimmy Anderson, who later walked off injured, Austrslia were 6/111. Peter Nevill marshalled the tail, and has taken the Test into a third day, but a likely short day ending in a heavy Australian defeat and a 1-2 series deficit.

Tonight I will grit my teeth, pour myself a glass of red, and watch England complete a well deserved victory. This doesn't mean that I believe that the Ashes will change hands, especially given the roller coaster nature of the first three Tests ( not dissimilar to the three Test series in Soiuth Africa last year. But then we had Ryan Harris. But now England may not have Anderson. Enough wishful thinking for now!

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