Australia 527-7d (Clarke 187) v
England 294-7 (Pietersen 113)
Third Ashes Test, Old Trafford, day three
Australia retained a firm grip on the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. They coped well with a Kevin Pietersen hundred and had reduced England to 294 for seven by stumps - still 34 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on.
Perhaps unexpectedly it was the Australian seamers, rather than Nathan Lyon’s off-spin, who did the damage as they bowled with great heart throughout on another warm day in Manchester. They began well before Kevin Pietersen lit up the afternoon session for the home crowd.
England struggled initially as Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook struggled to score, with Trott eventually falling, caught by Michael Clarke off Ryan Harris behind the wicket. Pietersen and Cook batted on for a while, but Mitchell Starc had the latter caught brilliantly down the leg-side to make it 110 for four and leave England in trouble.
Pietersen was then joined by Ian Bell and the pair batted for the entirety of the afternoon session to take their side closer to the crucial follow-on target of 328. Pietersen had looked all at sea at the start of his innings against seam, but he and Bell launched into Lyon when the off-spinner was introduced into the attack.
It was said at the start of the day that how England played Lyon would be key to how they would fare and Pietersen was clearly intent on domination, hitting him for successive sixes. Bell also added an elegant straight six of his own and Lyon was removed from the attack. To be fair, Lyon didn’t do a lot wrong and had the misfortune to come across Pietersen in an aggressive mood, leading England’s clearly pre-planned assault on him with typical audacity.
Pietersen had one major reprieve when, advancing down the pitch against Shane Watson, he was struck on the pad and should have been given out LBW. So plumb was the decision in fact that had Australia reviewed then it would have been overturned, but their lack of success with the system continued and they cautiously decided against doing so.
Pietersen went on to complete a 23rd Test century and move into second, behind Alastair Cook, on England’s all-time list of century-makers. He lost Bell, bowled by a good-length delivery from Harris that just shaped in, before reaching the milestone, with Jonny Bairstow accompanying him to it.
Bairstow and Pietersen then fell in quick succession as Australia, once again, sensed their chance of enforcing the follow-on. Bairstow was eventually tempted into a loose drive outside off-stump by Starc after leaving many similar deliveries alone earlier in his innings. Pietersen was given out LBW, only predictably to review it, before being sent on his way. Only later did the Snickometer suggest that he might just have got the tiniest of inside edges.
Nonetheless, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior were left to see out the remainder of the day. Broad was tormented by Lyon, while Prior shied away from any of his normal aggressive strokes and played and missed a couple of times to Harris. However, they both survived and will be key to England’s hopes of avoiding the follow-on tomorrow and then, hopefully, reducing Australia’s lead to less than 150.
© Cricket World 2013