By BV Swagath
Persistent rain robbed Australia a great opportunity to keep the Ashes alive at Old Trafford. Only three balls were bowled post lunch on the final day before rain settled down to force abandonment. The last ball before rain had arrived saw Ian Bell get a nasty blow on his glove to a Siddle delivery which exploded out of nowhere. Had rain stayed away, Australia was clear favourites to force a win having taken three wickets early and the pitch and overcast conditions aiding their bowling attack.
Australia Skipper Michael Clarke got the Man of the Match for his first innings knock of 187. With this third Test ending in a draw, England has retained the Ashes 2-0 with Australia at the best only in a position to draw level the series.
Update at Lunch on Day 5: Just the 20 overs were possible on the first session of the final day of the third test due to a delayed start by wet outfield. Australia wasted little time by declaring their second innings at the overnight status to leave England a challenging target of 332 in 98 overs.
The 20 overs of play were enough for the Aussies to set themselves for a victory with three English batsmen getting dismissed. Ryan Harris produced a beautiful full length inswinger to trap Skipper Alastair Cook lbw in the 3rd over. Harris struck again in the 13th over when he had Jonathan Trott inside edging a leg glance to Haddin. Four overs later, Peter Siddle came up with the big wicket of Kevin Pietersen, who was caught behind attempting a loose straight drive on the up to an away swinger.
It was a controversial dismissal for KP as his review couldn’t overturn the Umpire decision because of the lack of evidence. It wasn’t an obvious nick which wasn’t even shown by hotspot. Yet the third Umpire had to go with the noise and the visual of the bat being quite far away from the bat.
England at lunch is rattled at 35 for 3 and they would hope for the weather to intervene in their favour. Conditions for now at Manchester are quite gloomy with every chance of a shower or two.