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Alex Brown at Lord's
July 17, 2009
Australia have drawn inspiration from an unlikely source as they bid to avoid the follow-on and save the second Test. Speaking after a day in which the hosts seized firm control of the match, Michael Hussey said Australia would seek to emulate England's fighting effort from the drawn Cardiff Test over the final three days at Lord's.
Australia will resume on Saturday at 156 for eight and still requiring a further 70 runs to avoid the follow-on. The task will not be easy, with their not-out batsmen, Nathan Hauritz and Peter Siddle, contending with injury and illness respectively, and England's bowlers high on confidence following a final session on Friday in which they claimed a combined six wickets for 49 runs.
The odds of Australia saving the match will largely be determined by the weather - The Met Office is predicting intermittent showers over the next three days - but Hussey, not one to gamble on meteorologists' forecasts, called on his players to mirror England's fifth day heroics at Sophia Gardens to save the game.
"We watched England fight their way out of a pretty big hole in Cardiff," Hussey said. "We've got to show similar resolve. We've got two batters left and it's important we try and scrape our way past the follow-on first. That's got to be our first target; just make their bowlers bowl more overs and try to wear them down a little bit more.
"Obviously they're going to have a bit of momentum. We need to just hang in their long enough and put the pressure back on them, and then we're going to have to bat very, very well in the second innings. We have to show a lot of fight and a lot of pride in our performance, and I'm confident our team can do that."
The Australians, Hussey added, were not motivated by the prospect of defending their 75-year-old unbeaten record at Lord's. "I haven't thought about it at all," he said. "Each individual can speak for themselves, but ... I haven't been carried away by the emotion of playing at Lord's."
England, provided they close out Australia's innings for less than 70 additional runs, will face an intriguing decision on Saturday: to follow-on, or not to follow-on. Andrew Strauss has demonstrated a penchant for sending the opposition back in during his captaincy career - twice asking West Indies to bat again earlier this summer - but James Anderson, who is closing in on a seventh career five-wicket call, said the decision would be guided by the weather.
"We'll assess the conditions in the morning," Anderson said. "If there's some cloud around we might well enforce the follow-on, if it's [hot] we might just bat again."
Why the Indian opener would be well advised to shelve the hook and pull in Australia