By BV Swagath
Australia’s chances of bouncing back in the Ashes Series with a win at Old Trafford look minimal because of bad weather. The Third Test is all set to end in a stalemate as just about 56 overs were bowled on the penultimate day. The weather forecast for the final day isn’t too great for the Aussies to force a win.
The visitors in the limited time available on Day 4 finished with an overall lead of 331 which should be sufficient for a declaration. However, the Aussies could find it difficult to take 10 English wickets on the final day which is likely to be hit by showers.
England did well in the morning to not only avoid the follow-on but also bring down the Aussie first innings lead to 159 runs. The homeside resuming Day 4 at 294 for 7 were bowled out for 368 after batting for more than an hour.
The first breakthrough for the Aussies came when Stuart Broad edged a turning off break from Lyon to the keeper but by then the left-hander had scored a useful 32. Broad put on 58 runs with Prior for the 8th wicket to help England overcome the follow-on. Peter Siddle wrapped up the English innings taking the wickets of Graeme Swann (edging to the keeper) and Matt Prior (30, caught off a miscued pull).
Australia showed their intentions of scoring quickly by sending in Warner to open the innings. Warner scored 41 from 57 balls to give some momentum for the Aussies. However, England fought back taking wickets at regular intervals. When bad light and subsequently rain had the last laugh at Manchester, Australia were at 172 for 7 in 36 overs with Michael Clarke on 30*. Australia might declare their innings overnight and leave England with a challenging target of 332 on the final day.