Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes the second new-ball will be key for the visitors on a pivotal Day Four of the third Ashes Test against England at Headingley.
The Aussies are just one win away from retaining the historic urn in England for the first time since 2001 but Tim Paine and his men were frustrated for a large part on Day Three by a resurgent batting display from the hosts.
Having been bowled out for just 67 runs in their first-innings, England reached 156-3 at stumps on Saturday in their chase of a target of 359 runs. Skipper Joe Root dug in with an unbeaten 75 while Joe Denly registered his first half-century of the series as the hosts finally showed a backbone with the bat.
They still need 203 runs further for a victory to level the five-match series and Ponting is confident that Australia’s bowlers can seize the new-ball advantage to thwart any such plans.
“I know England have played really well this afternoon, they dug deep,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“Denly and Root’s partnership was outstanding, but I think Australia has still got plenty of runs. We’ve seen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins bowl outstandingly well right through the game and I think as the game goes on Nathan Lyon is going to come in to it more and more.
“The wicket looks like it’s flattened out considerably late this afternoon but there’s a new ball around the corner tomorrow morning. It’s been a new-ball wicket all game. The other thing we’ve seen is in the game it has been a really hard wicket for anyone to come in and start on.”
England have never successfully chased a target as high as 359 runs in the final innings of a Test match with a chase of 332 runs in 1928 against Australia being their previous best.
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