Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin rode their luck and their home advantage to produce an epic triple century Ashes stand to provide Australia with an unlikely first innings lead of 221 and leave England with only a slight hope of pulling off a victory in the first Ashes Test. This is what England must believe, for there is enough time for them, and enough difficulty in the wicket for them to consider defending 100-120 in the fourth innings. It also shows you how far behind they are in the game.
The day began 30 minutes early to make up for time lost to rain on the second day, and Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin defended their wickets with every last inch of their ability, their specific knowledge of the home pitch and all their experience. James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled superbly with the new ball - especially Anderson, and while it seemed like a wicket could fall at any time, it was not to be. England were undone by UDRS and should see the wisdom in India's refusal to accept UDRS after this morning's play. Basically, the argument implicit in the UDRS is "Umpires can make mistakes, and since this is so, we will also allow the players to make up to two mistakes in an effort to correct the umpires mistakes". A situation where Aleem Dar first gave an LBW which wasn't out and then didn't give another one which was quite plumb (and was possibly influenced by the fact that his first call had been overturned), but couldn't be corrected because England didn't have any reviews left, is testimony to the convoluted stupidity of UDRS.
It would be a mistake to allow that single error by Aleem Dar to define the day. For once Australia had survived the first hour's play without losing a wicket, the mood at the Woolloongabba seemed to change. Brad Haddin signaled this change with a booming lofted straight drive off the first ball of the 15th over of the day off the luckless James Anderson. From that moment on, Hussey and Haddin had their way with England's bowling, in much the same way as they had in the final session of Day 2.
Michael Hussey made 195, his highest Test score, 12th Test hundred (9th in Australia). It may well prove to be a career defining innings in much the same way VVS Laxman's 281 proved to be for him. Hussey's ability to mercilessly take full toll of any offering that allowed him to play off the back foot was the defining feature of his play, along with his ability to play close to the body in defense. He was as tight and professional as England were loose and excessively confident in their approach on Day 1. This is the first time England have been challenged in a Test Match in 2010 since the South Africa series. They wilted in South Africa and so far, they have come up short in Brisbane. Tomorrow is their chance to script a turn around of their own.
The wicket has developed cracks if many of the reports are to be believed, and England will not be comforted by the fact that Australia lost their last 5 wickets for 31 runs, giving Steven Finn a pyrrhic 6/125. England must believe that they can score 350 in their second innings. And England victory is still on, even though Australia are well ahead in the game.
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Brisbane - I