After a forgettable third day, Australia have their backs to the wall and will need divine intervention to save them from almost certain defeat in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s against England. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 8.00pm AEST.
Of course, what they could also do with is a combination of very good batting and some fortune as far as the weather is concerned because expecting only one of these factors may not cut the ice for the visitors.
If it was lame batting and the off-spin of Graeme Swann that undid the good work of the Australian bowlers on the second day of the Test, Joe Root took the game away from the visitors on the third.
Having come under criticism for promoting Root to the top of the order, the Yorkshire batsman repaid the selectors’ faith in him with a masterful and rather matured innings of 178 as England piled up 5/333 on the third day. He was still at the crease when the stumps were drawn.
Ian Bell was lucky to be let off by the third umpire as he went on to score 74 as England lost just two wickets in the day.
Bell missed his century after the night watchman Tim Bresnan had played his part in blunting the Australian pace attack and puncturing their already sagging morale.
The bare facts of the situation Australia now faces are as follows.
There are two full days of play remaining.
England have an overall lead of 566 with five second innings wickets in hand.
The highest total chased down successfully in the fourth innings of a Test ever is 418. That’s in 136 years of cricket.
The last time Australia scored more than 500 runs in an innings in a Test match was 11 Tests ago when they did that against South Africa in Adelaide last year.
None of Australia’s top six batsman except captain Michael Clarke has scored a century since September 2011 – that’s nearly two years ago when Phil Hughes hit one in Sri Lanka.
In short, the potential target they will be set will be next to impossible to achieve.
What can be achieved is a bit of respect, with a show of ticker that has been lacking in the side this game. Batting has been the team’s bugaboo for long enough but the team needs to persist with the current set of players and in turn, they will hope the batsmen can begin to deliver.
What this target should do is to free up the batsmen – but what coach Darren Lehmann will also want is the tightening of some of their techniques.
Some of the shots that were played in the first innings can be avoided while some others like Chris Rogers and Usman Khawaja can show a little more intent from the start.
Follow the live score and blog of the second day’s play of the second Test from 8.00pm AEST. You can join me for this live blog and post your comments below.