England v Australia, 2nd npower Test, Lord's, 3rd day July 18, 2009

England dominant with 521-run lead

England 425 and 311 for 6 (Prior 61, Collingwood 54) lead Australia 215 (Hussey 51, Anderson 4-55) by 521runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A methodical second-innings batting performance has England poised to end Australia's era of dominance at Lord's. Only inclement weather or a historic Australian fourth-innings effort can deny Andrew Strauss' men, who have amassed an authoritative 521-run lead after three days of the second Test.

No team has successfully chased more than 418 runs to win a Test match - the record at Lord's is 344 - although the South Africans demonstrated recently that survival at this ground is possible in desperate, late innings situations. Graeme Smith's side batted for almost 12 hours to reach 393 for 3 to save the first Test almost a year ago to the day, but whether Australia's batsmen are capable of holding out a driven and in-form England pace attack for six sessions remains to be seen.

Rain prompted a premature end to play on Saturday, and Australia will be hoping for more of the same over days four and five. Intermittent showers are predicted for Sunday and Monday, but they will presumably bring with them heavy overhead conditions which the likes of James Anderson and Graham Onions can exploit, as was the case on a rain-interrupted day two.

England, having declined to enforce the follow-on, advanced to 311 for 6 in their second innings, scoring their runs at a merry 4.35 an over and again taking a fancy to the out-of-sorts Mitchell Johnson. Kevin Pietersen (44 from 101 balls) and Paul Collingwood (54 from 80) denied the Australians any hope of a prompt end to the innings, and Matt Prior (61 from 42) compounded the tourists' misery with an innings that could scarcely have been more dashing had it taken place in the Twenty20 arena.

The day was not without its share of controversy, and again Rudi Koertzen was at its epicentre. A magnet for controversy in this Test, Koertzen referred Nathan Hauritz's claimed catch off Ravi Bopara in the final over before tea to the third umpire, Nigel Llong, who found replays to be inconclusive. The South African official subsequently ruled Bopara not out, prompting Ricky Ponting to confront both the umpire, and then Pietersen, the non-striker - all on the MCC's designated "spirit of cricket day". Ponting, who had been incorrectly ruled out by Koertzen the previous day, was decidedly unamused at the decision to allow Bopara to continue batting.

Top Curve
Prime Numbers
  • 3

    The number of times, before this game, that England had set Australia fourth-innings targets of more than 500. Australia lost all those three matches.
  • 123.6

    The most overs Australia have batted in the fourth innings of a Test. Those were eight-ball overs - against South Africa in 1950 - which convert into 165 six-ball overs. The record against England is 115 eight-ball overs (153.2 six-ball ones).
  • 145.23

    Matt Prior's strike rate - he scored 61 off 42 balls. It's the highest strike rate for a 50-plus score in 2009.
  • 7.06

    The average runs per over during the 86-run fifth-wicket stand between Prior and Collingwood. It's the fourth-highest for a partnership of over 50 this year.
  • 34

    The number of runs Prior scored off Nathan Hauritz in 20 balls, while Collingwood took 24 off 32 against him.
Bottom Curve

Hauritz had earlier removed England's openers shortly after the lunch break, but Australia squandered several other opportunities to claw their way back into the second Test during the second session. Within the space of five deliveries, Ponting missed a chance to run out Pietersen and dropped a dolly off Bopara at second slip as England advanced their overall lead to an intimidating 340 runs.

Hauritz had provided the Australians with their first glimmer of hope in days when, in the second over after lunch, he dismissed Cook lbw for 32. The mode of dismissal was a familiar one for Cook - playing around his front pad - and came after a morning session in which the hosts had ruthlessly dominated their antipodean foes. Hauritz followed that effort by removing Cook's partner, Strauss, in his next over with a beautifully flighted delivery that gripped, kissed the outside edge and floated to Michael Clarke at first slip. England, suddenly, were 74 for 2, and Australia sensed an opportunity.

But once again they would fluff their lines at the critical juncture. Following a raucous lbw shout by Peter Siddle, Pietersen strayed from his crease momentarily but was spared an embarrassing dismissal when Ponting's shy at the stumps missed the mark. Worse was to come for the Australian captain in that over when, in attempting to take a low catch with fingers up, he spilled an easy chance off Bopara at second slip.

Curiously, Ponting did not bowl Hauritz again after he claimed his second wicket, preferring instead to use Hilfenhaus unchanged for 90 minutes from the Nursery End and experiment with Johnson from both over- and around-the-wicket in front of the pavilion. Johnson turned in a far more disciplined performance in his second spell, conceding just 11 runs from seven overs, and will count himself unfortunate not have had the wicket of Bopara just prior to tea.

Pietersen and Bopara made the most of their reprieves, advancing England's second innings total to 147 before Hauritz finally had Bopara dismissed at bat-pad. Pietersen turned in one of his most attritional innings in recent memory, only to inside-edge a Siddle delivery to a diving Brad Haddin. Siddle's persistence was further rewarded with the wicket of Collingwood, who walked from the field with nary an appeal from the bowler, and Prior's innings was terminated by a brilliant direct hit from Marcus North, but by then the damage was done. When rain arrived in the 72nd over, England were already equipped with a total that should prove more than a handful for the Australians.

Earlier, Strauss sought to turn the screws on the Australians by again sending them back into the field, despite them falling 10 runs shy of the follow-on target. Onions snuffed out the final wickets of Hauritz and Siddle on a morning in which Australia's tail gave a better account of itself than the top-order.

Hauritz and Siddle combined for a 44-run ninth wicket stand - the second-highest partnership of the Australian innings - before the former flashed at Onions' third delivery of the day and was caught by Collingwood at third slip for 24. Hauritz had displayed immense courage to that point, batting with a dislocated finger on his right hand which was clearly causing him discomfort. On many occasions, Hauritz withdrew his hand from the bat shortly after making contact, but held firm for 47 balls and 67 minutes.

Siddle and Hilfenhaus took Australia within 10 runs of the follow-on target, before Siddle was dislodged by Onions for 35. Onions finished the innings with figures of 3 for 41 from 11 overs - including 2 for 9 on Saturday - and was far more effective than Stuart Broad, whose short-pitched strategy seldom threatened. In total, Australia added 59 runs for the loss of two wickets from 14 overs on the third morning.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo