Australia poised to regain urnArunava Das |
The Aussies are well placed to regain the Ashes after a breathtaking display from Adam Gilchrist on the third day at the WACA.
Australia began the day with 119 runs on the board with only the one wicket down – an overall lead of 148.
The English bowlers began their task well, creating chances and building pressure on the pair of Hayden and Ponting. Ponting eventually succumbed to the bowling of Harmison for 75, and the Aussies were 144-2. The next batsman in was the first innings hero, Michael Hussey. The WA stalwart began confidently as usual, and looked to put the pressure back on the England bowlers.
Hayden and Hussey almost took the Australians through to lunch. They had added 62 runs when Hayden attempted to cut Panesar, only to offer a catch to Collingwood at first slip. Hayden had looked uncomfortable against Panesar throughout the session, with several confident shouts turned down.
At the other end, Hussey also had his troubles against Panesar. Shortly before Hayden fell, England were convinced they had Hussey caught, but umpire Koertzen turned down the appeal. Having been given a life, Hussey took full advantage of it and opened up after the luncheon interval.
With Clarke as his partner, Hussey went for his shots, and survived some more close calls along the way. He was dropped by the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones when on 48, and went on to complete his fifth Test ton shortly before tea. Panesar soon had his man though, with Hussey tickling one through to the ‘keeper to be dismissed for 103.
The Aussies had a lead nearing 400 when Symonds strode to the crease in the final session. However, he couldn’t impose himself and fell for two to a wonderful catch from Collingwood at slip to give Panesar his third wicket of the innings.
Gilchrist came to the crease in search of runs, after a recent lean run with the bat and a duck in the first innings. He opened his account with a streaky edge through gully. However, the wicketkeeper-batsman found his feet in no time, and brought up a half-century off only 40 deliveries. Clarke had meanwhile serenely made his way to his second hundred of the series, and fourth of his career. Unfortunately for the exciting young batsman, his effort was soon to be overshadowed.
Having reached a minor milestone, Gilchrist opened up considerably, taking a particular liking to the left-arm spin of Monty Panesar. He took 24 off one Panesar over, hitting the young spinner for three sixes. Gilchrist didn’t spare any of the other bowlers either. He hit all of the English bowlers into submission and threatened to break Viv Richards’ 20 year record for fastest Test hundred. He was denied the record but still reached a brilliant and utterly destructive century off only 57 deliveries.
There was only time for one more boundary from Michael Clarke before Ricky Ponting called his batsmen in, declaring the innings closed at 527-5. Clarke and Gilchrist had together added 162 runs in 20 overs and the England team was left completely demoralised.
The England openers had a tricky period of six overs to face to complete the day and they began in disastrous fashion. Strauss shouldered arms to Lee’s fourth delivery and was struck on the pads plumb in front to go for zero. Bell and Cook were able to safely negotiate the remainder of the day, but England face an enormous challenge to save the match and the Ashes.
Mike Hussey 74*
Monty Panesar 5-92, Steve Harmison 4-48
Kevin Pietersen 70, Andrew Strauss 42
Stuart Clark 3-49, Andrew Symonds 2-8
Michael Clarke 135*, Michael Hussey 102, Adam Gilchrist 102*, Matthew Hayden 92, Ricky Ponting 75
Monty Panesar 3-145
Ian Bell 9*, Alistair Cook 7*
Brett Lee 1-5