In the midst of all the media fiasco and the talk about Warne’s hyped return et al, the third ashes test began on Thursday at the WACA. Australians took the field after the selectors were done with another round of chopping and trimming. The hosts decided to go with all pace attack supported by a part-time spin of Steve Smith. England on the other hand stuck to the three seam one spin combination. The visitors won the toss and inserted the Aussies into bat on a wicket that suggested a bit of support to the seam bowlers and with weather looking like it would help as well. By the second over after lunch the top order of the hosts had been back to the dressing room with scorecard reflecting 5/69.
Another top order failure again underlined Australia’s problem with batting. It is really disheartening to see Shane Watson being forced to open when he’s a natural #6 and watch someone like Steve Smith walk out at #6, while we have a much talented opener Sean Marsh not even in the picture. Perhaps it is one of those Greg Chappell experiments that he tried in Team India during 2006-07 with disastrous results. Well the results aren’t any different here, are they? I don’t why Greg Chappell has this habit of trying make someone what they aren’t naturally; perhaps Irfan Pathan knows the answers to that.
Tremlett gave the first blow in the very second over by removing Hughes. Skipper Ponting started off in a splendid fashion with three boundaries but the Jimmy Anderson got is bunny as he trapped Ponting in the slips. Collingwood took a stunner to make for Strauss’s earlier drop for the skipper. Clarke kept is bat hanging outside the off stump and eventually chased a wide delivery, yet again. A Finn Yorker ended Watson’s fight. Then soon after Lunch Tremlett struck again, this time removing Smith and kneeling Aussies down to 5/69. That is when their two only in form batsman locked horns and looked like they were getting on with rescue operation similar to the first test. This is exactly when Swann grabbed the vital wicket of Hussey.
Hussey scored his fourth fifty plus score in as many innings in this series so far. Haddin put a vital 68 with Hussey and then joined hands with Johnson to put another 42 to put Australia to somewhat respectable 6/179 by the tea break. Australia is still not out of jail yet. They would need the lower order to defy with Haddin and the keeper himself will have to play the innings of his lifetime. The Ashes result hinges on this one innings from Australia. England has the edge and can hammer the final nail in the coffin; however, they shouldn’t get to comfortable and let this early advantage slip away.
It almost appears like England could do no wrong. When Straus inserted the hosts in then he would expected to warp their innings today and somewhere under 250, and in that manner England are still on course. This doesn’t look like Adelaide where England could pile up 600 easily. So England has to warp the Australian innings as soon as possible and then bat cautiously for as long as they can. They definitely wouldn’t want to bat last at this wicket. Overall, after the first four hours Strauss would be a much satisfied leader while Ponting must be feeling like WACA was hit by a massive perthquake this morning that rattled his top order.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav