Pick of the day
We look back on the best of the action, reaction and opinion from day three at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 03/08/13 9:57pm
Despite a magnificent century from Kevin Pietersen, the hosts closed on 294-7, still 233 behind Australia's mammoth first-innings total of 527-7.
With just two days remaining England, who are 2-0 up in the five-match series, will still feel confident of holding on for a draw which would see them retain the Ashes.
But Australia are firmly on top in Manchester and will utilise either the follow-on - if it can be enforced - or an aggressive second-innings declaration to set up an exciting finale.
With the third Test now having passed the halfway point, we take a look back on the pick of the action, reaction, opinion and video from day three.
England finished day three on 294-7, with Pietersen compiling 113 before being trapped lbw by Mitchell Starc. Alastair Cook (62) and Ian Bell (60) also made valuable contributions as England attempted to halt the momentum of their arch rivals, who had declared in the evening session on day two. With England needing 34 to avoid the follow-on, the outcome of the match could hinge on the first few hours of play on Sunday. Australia are likely to hold a significant lead once England complete their first innings, but as they need to win to stand any chance of regaining the urn, they will likely be forced to make an aggressive declaration if their advantage is fewer than 200 runs.
Man of the day
Much of the talk in the run-up to the Old Trafford Test centred on whether or not Pietersen would even be able to play, the batsman having suffered a calf injury at Lord's which he was struggling to shake off. However, the 33-year-old came through late fitness checks and, after spending almost two days in the field, was finally able to cut loose with the bat on the third day, on which he was the standout performer. Although he was given a reprieve when he escaped an lbw decision on 62, his first international century of 2013 has given England's chances of securing the draw which would see them retain the Ashes a huge boost.
Win still on?
With England battling to avoid the follow-on, most would agree that they would take a draw if it was offered. But a home victory remains on the cards at the end of day three. If England do force Australia to bat next, the tourists will likely then be forced to declare without an ironclad lead in order to give themselves as much time as possible try and take 10 more wickets. "I think that the key to it is to put overs into their bowlers," Pietersen said. "That's what we set out to do today - to get through the day - and we've achieved that. I know we're still in a spot of bother but if we can avoid the follow-on then anything can happen in this fixture still."
With 35 Test centuries between them, Sky Sports experts Andrew Strauss and Nasser Hussain are better placed than most to give any prospective cricketers a few pointers on batting technique. The former England captains gave a fascinating insight into the dos and don'ts of occupying the crease in the Ashes Zone. According to double Ashes-winning skipper Strauss, getting the basics right is the key to improving as a batsman. "Forget about triggers, forget about anything else - it's a bat-hit-ball game," Strauss said. "Watch the ball and as it comes out of [the bowler's] hand say to yourself, 'is that a full ball or is it a short ball?'. Try to pick it up right from the moment it leaves his hand."
Work to do
Sky Sports expert David Lloyd has been enjoying the sun in Manchester but thinks England need to toil a bit more in the high temperatures if they are to avoid defeat. With Alastair Cook's side still not certain of avoiding the follow-on, Australia firmly hold the upper-hand despite a draw being the heavily-favoured result with bookmakers. "England have still got a lot of work to do - they are still 233 runs behind - and the follow-on will be intriguing," Bumble said. "I like Pietersen's comment that they are looking to put overs into the opposition's legs because the next Test match comes around in three days' time after this one finishes."