Australia in England / Features

England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 5th day

Ponting finds his feet, and Freddie's heroics

How Ricky Ponting kept England at bay, and Andrew Flintoff's domination of left-handers

On the ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

August 15, 2005

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Throughout the series, Ricky Ponting had been struggling for runs, but he put it all together under serious adversity to score what is easily his most significant Test innings to date. It wasn't a typical Ponting effort - he began scratchily, taking 105 balls to reach his half-century, but from there, it kept getting better: his next 50 took just 64 balls, and he needed only 78 more to get to 150.

Ponting's problem so far on tour had been his footwork; here, it showed vast improvement. He wasn't very dominant off the front foot, but he made the bowlers pay whenever they pitched short. And he was only caught on the crease 18 times, a sign that he is slowly regaining his best form.

Ponting's fantastic knock thwarted a wholehearted effort from England, led by Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff has been in devastating form with both bat and ball in this series, and what's been especially impressive is the manner in which he has bowled to the left-handers in the Australian line-up. On the final day at Old Trafford, Flintoff proved once again that he had the measure of the left-handers, dismissing three of them - Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich and Adam Gilchrist - and conceding just 18 runs from the 60 balls he bowled at them.

Flintoff's confidence in his ability shone through in the manner in which he attacked the batsmen. He switched from over the wicket to round the wicket regularly, but seldom erred in direction while doing so, keeping it on a good length around off stump most of the time. The way he shackled Adam Gilchrist was quite outstanding - in 22 balls, Gilchrist managed only a single before eventually falling to him for the third time in the series. Flintoff's effectiveness against left-handers can also be gauged by the number of false strokes he induced from them - 15 times the ball took the edge or beat the bat. Even Ponting did not take too many liberties against him, scoring only 19 from 49 deliveries.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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