Aussies are all set to move one up in the Ashes Series as they got themselves in a strong position to hand over a heavy defeat to England. Having bundled out Flintoff’s team for just 157, the homeside opted to bat again to rest their bowlers and in their second innings have raced away to 181 at the loss of one wicket which has given them a monstrous lead of 626. It is already an intimidating figure for the side batting last, this could well be one of the worst defeats in the history of the game for England. There doesn’t look to be any way out of this except if it rains and rains for the next two days!
So coming in at 53 for 3 at the start of the third day’s play, England were looking up for a couple of great innings to carry them through the day. It just didn’t go their way once Kevin Pietersen (16) decided to pad up a Glenn McGrath’s incoming delivery to be adjudged leg before the wicket. In just few more minutes, the other danger man was gone too; it was Freddie Flintoff out for a third ball duck nicking Brett Lee’s quick outswinger to Gilchrist. It was a good ball nevertheless but replays showed that Lee had overstepped the crease which wasn’t picked up by Steve Bucknor! Anyway England were in tatters at 79 for 5 with just Ian Bell the lone specialist batsman hanging in there. A small partnership was developing between Bell and Geraint Jones which atleast took them to lunch with those five wickets down.
After lunch, Glenn McGrath struck again, this time with a delivery that came back a long way to beat Jones on the pads dead in front of the stumps. In no time, Stuart Clark was driven carelessly by Ian Bell into the slips. Bell got out after making exactly 50; he had battled out for 162 deliveries. The tail wasn’t allowed to wag and it was a quick finish for the bowlers with England’s first innings done and dusted for 157 in just 61.1 overs. McGrath who took his 29th five-wicket haul finished off with six wickets which had come at just 50 runs in 23.1 overs. Stuart Clark, the other twin tower supported McGrath by picking up three for 21 in 14. Shane Warne could hardly bowl as many as nine overs as he wasn’t required by Ponting.
Ponting didn’t enforce the follow on, perhaps to save his bowlers for the next Test Match at Adelaide which begins on December 1st. Matthew Hayden after a brisk start ran himself out after scoring 37 from 41. Aussies closed the day at 181 for 1 in 40 overs with Justin Langer onto 88 that came in 134 balls and Ponting on 51 from 66. Ponting might take some more time to bat on and might declare the innings before the lunch break. He might give Langer the opportunity to get to his hundred to begin with. There doesn’t seem to be any hope for England now, they might just be praying for a better performance in all the departments of the game in the next Test Match.