England in big trouble

Ryan Harris (Gallo)
Ryan Harris (Gallo)

Manchester - Ryan Harris struck twice to spark an England top-order collapse as Australia eyed a win in the third Test at Old Trafford on Monday that would keep their Ashes hopes alive.

England were 35 for three at lunch on the fifth and final day, having lost captain Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and first-innings century-maker Kevin Pietersen.

They needed a further 297 runs to reach their victory target of 332 after Australia captain Michael Clarke declared on his side's overnight 172 for seven.

Joe Root, dropped on four, was 13 not out and Ian Bell two not out.

Clarke had been angry when the umpires took the players off the field for bad light on Sunday.

It seemed the weather was against Australia once more when rain delayed Monday's scheduled start by 30 minutes in a match the tourists, 2-0 down in the five-Test series, had to win to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes.

Harris though brought one back late into left-hander Cook's front pad to have him lbw for nought, with England yet to score a run.

Cook reviewed Tony Hill's decision but there was nothing to suggest he got an inside edge and, with tracking technology indicating the ball had pitched in line, the New Zealand umpire's decision was upheld.

Trott survived an lbw appeal from Harris when on nine, a decision the Australians reviewed only to be defeated by a marginal 'umpire's call' verdict after replays showed the ball taking the outside part of leg stump.

But Trott was out for 11 when he carelessly glanced Harris and was caught down the legside by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Harris had taken two wickets for nine runs and England were 15 for two.

Australia nearly had a third wicket when Root, who'd taken 26 balls to get off the mark, edged Peter Siddle's sixth ball only for the normally reliable Clarke to drop the second slip chance as the ball hit his wrist.

But Siddle had the huge compensation of having Pietersen, who made 113 in the first innings of this match, caught behind for just eight as he pushed forward.

Pietersen challenged the decision and while the audio part of the Decision Review System indicated a noise, there was no mark on the Hot Spot thermal imaging device.

However, Sri Lankan third umpire Kumar Dharmasena, in the latest contentious DRS judgment this series, decided there was insufficient evidence to overturn Hill's original verdict and England were 27 for three.

Australia, beaten in their last six Tests and trying to avoid equalling their all-time record losing streak of seven set between 1885-88, now had a great chance of forcing victory.

No side had previously made more in the fourth innings to win an Old Trafford Test than England's own 294 for four against New Zealand in 2008.

However, England's main objective on Monday was to secure the draw that would see them retain the Ashes they hold as a result of 3-1 win in Australia in 2010/11.


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