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England has edge after engrossing day

Australia still needs 137 runs with just four wickets in hand to win the Trent Bridge Test

England has edge after engrossing day - Cricket News
Graeme Swann of England celebrates the wicket of Phil Hughes of Australia with team mates.
As dogged and cussed as Australia was, trying to make the most of resources that are not as generous as they once were, England took control of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Barring one passage, in which Shane Watson and Chris Rogers played bright cricket under blazing skies, racing away in pursuit of 311, it was England all the way. When stumps were drawn Australia was 174 for 6, still 137 adrift of a win.
Watson and Rogers knew history was stacked against them. In 2089 Test matches played before this one, a target of 300 or more had been successfully chased only 26 times, or a little more than 1% of the time. The heartening aspect was that Australia had done it most often – nine times – but the first thing that was called for was to build a solid base.
Watson knew that there was no alternative to being positive, and with the quick bowlers looking to keep it full and attack the stumps, a couple of crisp boundaries through the on side got Watson going. Rogers justified the faith reposed in him, playing the ball late and working the ones and twos that allowed Watson to push on.
England, perhaps a touch overeager to get into the Australian line-up with a big score on the board, faltered. Graeme Swann was too full at first, and was driven handsomely through cover by Watson. A full-blooded smack wide of long-on off the same bowler confirmed Watson’s growing confidence. On the verge of a half-century, though, Watson was rapped on the pads by Stuart Broad and the appeal was upheld by Aleem Dar. After a look to Rogers at the other end, Watson reviewed, and the technology sent the decision back to the on-field umpire, showing the ball shaving the outside of the leg stump. Watson shook his head as he walked off and Rogers dropped his bat in disbelief as Australia was 84 for 1.
With Watson gone, the balance of power shifted as a nervy, tentative Ed Cowan tried to find his feet. Cowan was jumpy at the crease and for a time the scoreboard got stuck and England’s bowlers had a chance to regroup and reassess their plans. The breathing space allowed Alastair Cook to give Joe Root a go with his part-time offspin, and Cowan obligingly played a loose drive to edge to slip at the stroke of tea.
At 111 for 2, Australia was still 200 runs away from its target when Michael Clarke came out to bat, the destiny of the run chase now firmly entwined with his own. While an authoritative start was needed, not merely to calm the nerves of his team-mates but to send a signal to the opposition, Clarke was strangely unsettled, feeling for swinging balls outside off that he might usually have left alone.
When Rogers (52) went, chipping a James Anderson slower ball to midwicket, Clarke’s hesitancy became more pronounced, and on 23, he was put out of his misery. Playing a limp push to a Broad delivery outside the off, Clarke stood his ground as England celebrated. Aleem Dar took a moment to speak with his colleague, Kumar Dharmasena, at square leg, to see whether the ball had carried and the matter was sent upstairs. As soon as the side-on replay showed the ball thudding into Matt Prior’s gloves on the full, Dar confirmed the dismissal and, immediately, Clarke reviewed. A combination of hot spot, which showed the faintest smidgen of a mark, and audio evidence, was enough for Marais Erasmus to confirm the dismissal.
Clarke had barely reached the dressing room when he had Steven Smith beside him, trapped in front of the stumps by Swann. There was more action soon after when Phil Hughes was struck on the pad by a delicious Swann floater, but Dharmasena indicated that he believed the ball had pitched outside leg. Television replays seemed to confirm this, but the Hawkeye pitch map ruled that the ball had pitched in line and Australia was 164 for 6.
Having reached the halfway mark with only three wickets down, Australia was in deep strife, and out walked Ashton Agar, promoted to No. 8, to join Brad Haddin. The pair took Australia through to stumps, with 137 still needed, an eerie echo of the classic at Edgbaston when Australia needed 107 from the final day with two wickets in hand.
The highlight of the morning was Ian Bell reaching a richly deserved 18th Test hundred, which drew him level with Michael Vaughan and David Gower, both former captains. Bell, who has crept past 6000 Test runs but still seems to have something to prove when it comes to batting in big moments, stood tall under pressure. With the game in the balance, a determined attack giving nothing away and a pitch being patently unsuited to Bell’s normally angelic stroke-making approach, he had to think through the situation very carefully. To his credit, Bell did just that.
The century, which came off a nudge to the on side and a scampered single, ensured that only the ignorant or willfully cynical will now doubt Bell’s steel. Even Bell’s worst detractors cannot deny the attractiveness of his batsmanship, and now, with an innings that provided the backbone to England’s efforts to set up the match, the discussion on his mental strength can be laid well to rest.
With Bell doing his thing, Broad brought up his half-century, further buttressing his excellent batting figures at Trent Bridge, and this landmark was received with applause, genuine from the England contingent and ironic from the Australians in the William Clarke Stand. The seventh-wicket stand, worth 138, was finally ended when Broad (64) edged James Pattinson – and walked – even as the bowler made a formal appeal, to be on the safe side.
As is so often the case, when one partner in a big partnership departs, the other follows. Bell, on 109, feathered an edge off Mitchell Starc, and soon after England’s innings ended, on 375. The extent to which England had to work for their runs was evident from the overall run rate, a lowly 2.5, in comparison to its own first-innings 3.64 and Australia’s 4.31.

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