Australia bounced back in the Third Ashes Test at Old Trafford, Manchester after two defeats but rain and bad light robbed them of a much deserved victory. England with their backs to the wall luckily escaped with a draw and as a result have retained the Ashes. There is no chance of Aussies winning the 5-match series because of the stalemate and at the best the tourists can only draw level the series.
The Michael Clarke led team won the toss and elected to bat first. The Aussies made three changes with David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon replacing the trio of Phil Hughes, James Pattinson and Ashton Agar. England made no changes with Kevin Pietersen fit to play and Monty Panesar left on the bench. Australia dominated Day 1 scoring 303 for 3 with Skipper Michael Clarke leading from the front with a 24th Test hundred. Opener Chris Rogers scored a positive 84 from 114 balls with 14 fours.
The first day’s play saw the controversial dismissal of Usman Khawaja, who was given caught behind off Swann despite not getting an edge. Khawaja did ask for a review but the third Umpire couldn’t overrule the ground umpire’s decision because of the lack of evidence.
Australia went onto score 527 for 7 before declaring its first innings. The declaration came about 10 minutes after the Tea Break. Michael Clarke settled with a new career best against England scoring 187 (from 314 balls with 23 fours). Steven Smith scored 89 from 196 balls with 8 fours while putting up a big stand with Clarke. Brad Haddin (65* from 99 balls with 6 fours) and Mitchell Starc (66* from 71 balls with 9 fours) also made merry with the willow.
England by the close of Day 2 was 52 for 2 in 30 overs losing Joe Root and Tim Bresnan. Day three was very crucial as far as the match was concerned. England was shaken up by regular intervals but a superb 23rd test ton from Kevin Pietersen saved the day for the hosts. Pietersen scored 113 (from 206 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes) before falling lbw to Starc. Skipper Alastair Cook contributed with 62 batting out 177 balls while Ian Bell scored 60 (from 112 balls).
The homeside went to Day 4 with three wickets in hand and a little over 30 runs to avoid the follow on. Thanks to 30s from Matt Prior and Stuart Broad, England managed to avoid it and end up with a total of 368 in 139.3 overs. Australia was forced to bat again and there was no choice for a declaration as their first innings lead was kept down to 159 runs. Bad light and rain curtailed the penultimate day leaving Australia stranded at 172 for 7 in 36 overs.
Australia declared its second innings on Day 5 without facing a ball as overnight rain had delayed the start. The final day at Old Trafford saw only 20.3 overs being bowled in two sessions as heavy rain lashed out the ground to force an abandonment. England was reeling at 37 for 3 with the Aussie bowlers looking red hot but rain put a brake to the latter’s aggression. Australia Skipper Michael Clarke got the Man of the Match award for his 187.