Ian Bell carried on the good work of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen to get to the cusp of his 18th Test century as England begin the fourth day of the first Ashes Test in a position of great ascendancy over Australia. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 8.00pm AEST.
Bell was unbeaten on 95 when play was called off at the end of the third day by which time England had stretched their lead on to 261 with four second innings wickets standing.
Australia went into the third day on an even keel with their opponents and seemed to have forged ahead after picking up four wickets over the next two sessions.
Despite having taken a long time to grab those four, they had bowled well to restrict England’s scoring, which meant when Matt Prior became the sixth batsman out, the home team was only 153 runs in front.
In came Stuart Broad to join Bell and the pair forged a century-run stand on a track turning more and more difficult by the session.
Broad survived a monumental umpiring blunder while Bell had his catch dropped by the keeper soon after but amid all that they did well to bat on for 40 overs.
Earlier, captain Michael Clarke’s decision to take the second new ball as early as he did came as bit of a surprise given how much the ball was reversing for the speedsters.
With the new ball, Australia managed to get only Prior out and by the time it had started reversing again, the two batsmen were set.
So going into the fourth day, England’s first task will be to see the two get to their respective landmarks – Bell to a century and Broad to 50.
Post that, they would love to bat a session and a half or add at least another 100, giving them the opportunity to further tire the Australians on the field and rough up the pitch even more.
On the other hand, Australia’s teeny-weeny chance of making a game out of this will be to restrict the English lead to less than 300 – in the process, pick up four quick wickets and go into the fourth innings with a bit of a momentum.
One way or the other, the visitors will be needed to put up a strong showing with the bat in the second innings, something they have been averse to doing in recent times.
Follow the live score and blog of the fourth day’s play of the opening Test from 8.00pm AEST.
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