Sunday, 19 July 2009

Second Ashes Test, Lord's, Day Three

Sports - Cricket - Ashes

My picks of the third day:

England put a huge lead of over 500 runs on the board after they surprisingly opted against enforcing the follow-on when they bowled out Australia for only 215 runs on day three of the second Ashes Test at Lord's. Australia looked to take advantage of that slim chance they were given when they took a couple of wickets just after lunch. But England kept the scoreboard ticking, giving Australia a record-total to chase.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, Australia 215 all out, England 57 for 0 (267 lead) at lunch: England surprising with the decision not taking advantage of the follow-on but the captain making a fine batting start to prove his point.

2nd session, England 130 for 2 (340 lead) at tea: Australia putting a little bit pressure on England getting a couple of wickets straight after lunch and KP and Bopara all over the place.

3rd session, England 311 for 6 (521 lead) at the end of day three: England for finally getting back into the flow and the scoreboard ticking again, hitting beautiful boundaries.

Partnerships: England had a lead of 210 runs when they came on to bat after not anforcing the follow-on. A pick of different and very-much contrasting partnerships developed through the day:

- 61 runs between Andrew Strauss (28) and Alastair Cook (32): The opening partners looked comfortable and confident just like in the first innings, hitting Australia all over the pitch, but this time not getting far past the 50 after lunch. Cook was beaten by a turn in bounce, lbw dead. Strauss was caught at slip shortly afterwards.

- 73 runs between Ravi Bopara (27) and Kevin Pietersen (44): This could not have been a more contrasting partnership compared to the rest of them. Both players just did not get into a flow or play at all, losing sight of the ball on numerous occasions and getting away with inside-edges left, right and centre. It certainly frustrated Australia but the also the fans. It slowed the pace and run rate down very much and was a farce more than anything else. Both players need to look at themselves and get a grip!

- 86 runs between Paul Collingwood (24) and Matt Prior (61): Brilliant partnership to wake up the fans and the score centre up again: Matt Prior looked on fire and picked up the pace scoring his fastest (10th) half century in only 37 balls and 44 minutes! Collingwood kept company and contributed well to reach the biggest and most entertaining partnership of the day. Shame it had to end the way it did, not surprising though looking at the run-hunger Prior showed - he got run out on his call.

- 51 runs between Paul Collingwood (19) and Andrew Flintoff (30): Flintoff took over the license to thrill and kill and continued the flow of runs, runs, runs. The partnership took England's lead over the 500 mark. It found it's end with the last ball of the day, Collingwood caught. Nobody bothering to appeal, Colly just walked off, funny to watch. Stuart Broad came on just to be sent back straight away due to rain. Funny end to a just as crazy, funny day.

How many balls it took per 50 runs scored says a lot about the run of play, the partnerships and action and flow of the game: 60-79-131-63-46-48.

Bowlers: Ben Hilfenhaus was in control as much as Mitchell Johnson looked helpless and all over the place, once again today. Having bowled most of the overs of the day, Hilfenhaus still conceded the least runs and most maidens showing why he should always come ahead of Johnson, especially with the new ball. Nathan Hauritz was the man of the day for the Aussies, coming back from injury with his dislocated finger and still being able to get the swing of things and three wickets with it. He leaked a lot of runs end of the day though, but can take no blame really. Peter Siddle took a couple of wickets, too, but this time missing out on the torment he usually causes. He had KP and Bopara all over the place, but somehow could not get anything out of it.

Ups: Runs, runs, runs and boundaries, boundaries, boundaries - giving the Australians a record-high mountain to climb. They have two days, but looking at their first innings, the pitch and England's bowling line-up, only the weather can save them.

Downs: KP and Bopara putting the fans asleep not having a clue what they were doing and where they were. How their partnership reached 73 everyone most probably overslept. It did frustrate the Aussies but took the shine off the game for the time being.

Hero to zero: Sorry, but I have to pick on KP again. So far he has been hope- and useless, the shadow of the player he was in the 2005 Ashes. He does not know where his legs are, his bat is, the stumps are, he is, the ball is, ... Just looks total shambles!

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