1st Test, Day Three, Cardiff.
England are in firm control of the first Ashes test in Cardiff, although they may now have more than just the Australians to worry about, as they look to take a 1-0 series lead.
Forecasts for Sunday aren’t looking promising, with heavy rain predicted in the Welsh capital all morning. If anything, that should motivate Alistair Cook and co. to get the job done on Saturday.
England are in a great position to win the first test. After dismissing the rest of the Australian batsman in just over an hour Friday morning, they then had a resurgent Ian Bell to thank as they ended the day 411 runs ahead of their bitter rivals.
The visitors themselves began slowly, with Shane Watson trapped LBW by Stuart Broad during the second over of the day. James Anderson also picked up two wickets, moving him up to 11th in the England all-time test wickets list.
Despite losing Cook and Gary Ballance early on, Bell seemed to re-find his form at the perfect moment, scoring 60 runs to build on England’s 122 run lead ahead of their second innings.
He was eventually cleaned bowled by Mitchell Johnson, his first wicket of the match, but the Warwickshire man had caused the major damage to Australia’s hopes of turning the test around in their favour.
The ever-reliant Joe Root and oh so confident Ben Stokes added more gloss to the England scoreboard before a mini collapse from 207-4 to 245-8 had the home crowd on edge.
Step up Mark Wood, who added 32 with his sluggish method to score more runs for the hosts.
He remained at the crease until Anderson became Nathan Lyon’s fourth wicket of the day, meaning the Aussie is the first spinner from his country to take 150 test wickets.
England were all out for 289, but it means Australia must do the impossible in order to win the match.
Chasing 412 to win, Michael Clarke’s team would need to better the great Don Bradman’s team, who chased down 404 against England at Headingly back in 1948.
“We’re definitely still in it,” said Lyon.
“If we bat two days the result will go our way. There’s no reason why we can’t dig deep.
“We’ve got to learn from our first innings with the bat – be more patient. There were too many 30s in the first innings, so we need to try and push on a bit more and have a couple of our top five get big hundreds.”
The weather seems to be the Aussies’ greatest ally- and if they can still be in the match come stumps Saturday evening, then a draw would be a realistic result.
Right now though, this test looks like England’s to lose.