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Peter English at Lord's
July 19, 2009
Australia started the second innings wanting to do something never seen before in Tests or lose trying before reducing their final-day target to 209. A draw was not in the plan and they finished at 313 for 5, with Michael Clarke's 125 and Brad Haddin's 80 refloating the tourists in the world-record pursuit after they were hit by series of debatable umpiring decisions.
The unbroken 185-run stand gives Australia a chance of stealing a 1-0 lead and the coach Tim Nielsen outlined the mood. "We've never talked about saving this Test," he said. "When you're chasing 522 and have to bat for two lots of 98 overs, it's too big a task to talk about saving the Test. We like to back ourselves and we think we play our best when we're positive."
Graeme Swann, the offspinner, said England remained confident despite feeling the balance of power was "pretty even". "If Australia are to win it they've got to break a world record, and that's a very tough ask," he said. "They are in a much better position than they could be but with the new ball and everyone fit and firing in the morning ... the first session is when the most wickets tend to tumble. We're very confident and it's still a big lead, still a mountain of runs for Australia to climb."
The visitors were dominated for the opening three days and the cloudy conditions convinced Andrew Strauss to declare before play on the fourth morning. His side was quickly on top when three umpiring controversies winded the Australians before Clarke and Haddin joined forces at 128 for 5, bringing the volume down on the previously jubilant Lord's crowd and worrying the England squad.
"You don't like being 5 for 130, but we never lost hope and the players showed a lot of confidence and faith in themselves, which is great," Nielsen said. "I'm very pleased that in adversity the team has been able to have kept fighting when England have had their tails up. We've made them think they've got a real contest on our hands."
Swann said England expected one partnership to come off but the size of the Clarke-Haddin stand dropped them from cloud nine. "It was good for us, the time we were going off," he said. "We've got a new ball and everyone's going to be firing in the morning."
Clarke, speaking to Test Match Special on Monday morning, stressed the importance of a positive start to the final day's play. "With the batting we've got to come, we're in a good position to win the Test match," Clarke said. "It's a matter of backing ourselves, being confident and knowing we can win this game. There is an expectation to win, but I think Australians always have that expectation.
"It feels pretty similar to yesterday. We were a long way away from winning the game and we probably still are at this stage. It's about batting time."
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