On a slow day at The Oval, England laboured their way to 247 for four and may have just put Australia’s chances of a win in the Ashes, in jeopardy. The Australian bowlers kept it tight and the English batsmen were more than happy to defend all day. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.
Alastair Cook’s indifferent form continues
A Ryan Harris delivery that was angled away from Cook tempted the latter to go for drive. The result was a clear nick carrying to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Harris had, thus, dismissed Cook for the third time in the series.
Cook’s struggle with the bat continued even as his side had already sealed the series. The man who had a phenomenal run in 2012, has scored at a measly average of 27 in the series, despite making three half-centuries. By his standards, it has been a poor series for him with the bat.
England’s cautious approach
What was started off by Cook and Joe Root towards the end of Day Two transcended into the third day as the English batsmen were content with just defending away on a flat pitch, being wary of Australia’s chances of a victory.
The Aussie pacers kept things tight on a flat deck and made life tough for the batsmen. 68 from 184 balls by Root, 40 from 134 balls by Jonathan Trott and 50 from 133 balls by Kevin Pietersen was testimony to the fact that the England batsmen were prepared for a long day’s grind.
Nathan Lyon disrupts Joe Root’s concentration
Following Cook’s departure in the morning session, Root and Trott began to build a good partnership. Michael Clarke gave his spinner Nathan Lyon a three-over spell before lunch during which he tossed up a few deliveries to Root and tested his resolve. In the second session, Clarke started off with pace from both ends but soon introduced Lyon. The move worked. Root went for an audacious sweep and a top-edge went straight to Shane Watson at short long leg.
KP proves a point
With Root back in the hut, Australia had reasons to believe and hope that they could run through the rest of the lineup. However, Kevin Pietersen had other plans. He rose to the occasion and played a gritty 130-ball knock of 50 to prove that there is more to his game than flair and aggression. He curbed his natural instincts and played a silent knock that included only four boundaries.
Things had not gone according to plan for Australia. When they took the field in the morning, they would have hoped to do a lot better than take just three wickets across all three sessions. It was evident that the Australians were starting to get frustrated and skipper Clarke showed it when he was involved in a exchange of words with Pietersen. Such was the intensity that the umpires had to intervene.
With just two days to go, England have all but put an end to Australia’s chances of a win. This game is clearly headed for a draw unless Australia pull off something miraculous on the fourth day morning.