England

England took four crucial wickets in the final session of Day Four to turn the match in their favour © Getty Images

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
Jul 13, 2013
 
Two deliveries is all it took to turn this topsy-turvy game permanently in England’s favour. Australia, on 164 for three, were cruising along to their target of 311 with skipper Michael Clarke and young gun Steven Smith at the crease. The duo had come together after half-centurion Chris Rogers had thrown his wicket away to James Anderson after a responsible knock. They had played the pace-spin combination put forth by Alastair Cook with gusto, not afraid to go for their shots. Then, it all went south.
 
Michael Clarke’s blade took the faintest of faintest touches of a Stuart Broad delivery and gave a low catch to Matt Prior behind the sticks. Umpire Aleem Dar referred the decision upstairs to check whether Prior had taken it cleanly; as it turned out, he had. However, Clarke felt he hadn’t touched it and reviewed the decision, trusting technology to do him a favour. Unfortunately for the Australian captain, Snickometre and Hot Spot showed the smallest of crests, troughs and white spots to send him packing. You would think that was a review wasted.
 
The very next ball, which came in Graeme Swann’s new over, Steven Smith was trapped plumb in front by the off-spinner to make it 161 for five, from what was once 111 for one. The English consider Admiral Nelson’s figure as unlucky, but it was the Australians who suffered as they reached stumps at 174 for six, after Phil Hughes wasted the visitors’ last remaining review before being dismissed. Australia found themselves staring at an early Sunday defeat, after taking both lunch and tea on Saturday as the better-placed team.
 
Australia had done well in the morning to bowl England out for 375, after the hosts had resumed the day on 326 for six. Australia thus set themselves a target of 311 too win. England lost wickets at regular intervals in the morning session after overnight batsman Broad edged James Pattinson to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, and walked. This was before the England all-rounder brought up his half-century early in the day.
 
Ian Bell, unbeaten on 95 overnight, also notched his 18th Test century soon after, before Broad’s wicket ended their potentially match-winning 138-run partnership. Not long after Broad’s wicket fell, Bell gave Haddin his second catch of the morning after edging Mitchell Starc to make it 371 for eight.
 
Swann and Steven Finn then fell on successive deliveries to Peter Siddle as England’s innings ended on 375, a marked improvement from the 218 for six that they were on Day Three.

The Australian openers, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers, then confidently played out the half hour left before lunch to go into the break 283 behind with all wickets intact.

In the second session, the duo picked up from where they left off at lunch and scored at a good rate of above three an over. Everything was going hunky dory for the Australians until the drinks break, the first ball after which Broad trapped Shane Watson leg-before.

Rogers carried on along with Cowan, who survived a king pair and looked to have taken Australia through to tea without further damage, only for the latter to go for a big drive off Joe Root’s spin bowling in the last over before the break and edge to first slip. Rogers reached the tea interval unbeaten on 50 and looked extremely confident in his strokeplay.
  
Brief scores:

England 215 and 375 (Kevin Pietersen 64, Ian Bell 109, Stuart Broad 65; Mitchell Starc 3 for 81, Peter Siddle 3 for 85) lead Australia 280 and 174 for 6 (Shane Watson 46, Chris Rogers 52; Stuart Broad 2 for 34, Graeme Swann 2 for 64) by 136 runs.
 
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(Jaideep Vaidya is a correspondent at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)