|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Player:||AJ Strauss, KP Pietersen, SM Katich, GP Swann, RT Ponting, MJ North|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2009|
DateLine: 11th July 2009
England stumbled to 20/2 at tea and fortunately for them the rain gods intervened and the match had to be called off without a ball being bowled in the final session. Australia dominated the third successive day in the Test and will have 98 overs, weather permitting to force a result in their favour. English fans would surely be looking for the black clouds to remain over Cardiff for a while longer but the bad news for them is that the forecast for tomorrow is pretty sunny.
The day though belonged to two batsmen making their Ashes debut. Marcus North and Brad Haddin piled on runs in a strategic manner and always had the plan in place. Both scored centuries and pushed England bowling to a corner. Then after the declaration two quick wickets before tea, further aggravated English woes.
Earlier resuming their innings in the morning with already a 44-run lead over the hosts, North went on to make his first Ashes Test a memorable one. The left-hander scored the second century of his career and joined Australia's century club of the game. The predicted rain stayed away as North and Haddin made hay while the sun shined. They were aided by some sloppy fielding alongside an impotent looking English bowling attack.
Australia's lead grew to a commanding 142 on the fourth morning in Cardiff till lunch. Haddin also reached his fifty in the last over before the supper break and the duo batted throughout the session to carry the total to 577 for 5. North batted with his usual compact method and looked to pick up singles, only occasionally indulging in something flamboyant.
Strauss tried everything including a 7-2 field setting but North still drove Stuart Broad with utmost precision through the covers. The next ball further frustrated Broad as he was guided to another boundary in the vacant third-man region. His century came up in 206 balls shortly before lunch off a well run two. The only bowler who looked a little troublesome for the batters was Graeme Swann and the amount of turn he generated would have surely interested Hauritz and company.
The patience till lunch turned into extravagance post the break. Haddin came out looking to devour the average looking England attack. He hit three boundaries off an Anderson's over just after lunch and then followed it up with a six off Swann to raise the 600 figure for the tourists. North also soon joined the party heaving one over mid-wicket off Panesar as things started to look ominous for England.
After North, Haddin also joined the century makers at Cardiff. His onslaught continued till he reached his late nineties after which he slowed down till he touched the magical figures via a leg-glance off Paul Collingwood. The right-hander raised the 100 in 138 balls and immediately resumed the carnage hitting Collingwood for a four and a six in the next two deliveries he faced.
England finally had a wicket after a 200 run sixth-wicket stand. Haddin fell in trying to hit Collingwood out of the ground but only managed to find Ravi Bopara on the fence. With the dismissal, came the declaration and the overall lead at that time was 239 runs.
Ricky Ponting's aggressive captaincy of declaring with a lead of 239 runs paid quick dividends as first Alastair Cook and then Ravi Bopara fell victim to some accurate wicket-to-wicket bowling. The first to go was Cook who missed a straight ball and was trapped dead in front. Then Bopara fell victim to a dubious decision by Billy Doctrove. Ben Hilfenhaus pitched one in line which moved away a fraction and struck Bopara on the top flap of the pad. TV replays clearly suggested that the ball would have gone over the stumps but the dreaded finger rose up and Bopara had to walk back.
England headed into tea with their backs to the wall. They still had to score 220 more runs to make Australia bat again and have two less wickets to clear the hurdle. The hosts though would be a little comforted considering the two men at the crease when the players went for tea, Kevin Pieterson and skipper Andrew Strauss are their best bets if they want to save the game.
Post tea, the script remained the same as yesterday. A downpour restricted the players to resume the game and the only thing that changed was that this time the weather had utterly set in and the game had to be called off without a ball being bowled. Good news for Australia though is that the forecast tomorrow is good and considering the state of the game, they look the only favourite if there is a result at all.