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England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 1st day

August 21, 2013

Pot. Kettle. Lehmann

Nitin Sundar

Boring dead rubber. Inconsequential Test. Why exactly are we watching then?

It did help that the sides were surely not just going through the motions. Both teams came up with left-field selection calls to leave twitter astir well before start of play. Australia continued to play roulette with Shane Watson's batting position.

Darren Lehmann added some spice to proceedings with an extraordinary, delayed outburst aimed at Stuart Broad's controversial decision to not walk in the first Test.

England weren't going to let Australia hog the headlines. They handed unexpected debuts to Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan.

Australia elected to bat on another dry pitch.

Australia got off to a compelling start by their standards.

Alas, David Warner fell in the fifth over, swinging well away from his body.

Enter Watson at No. 3, with England getting prodigious early swing.

Watson and Chris Rogers hung in, and things began to get easy once James Anderson and Stuart Broad finished their opening spells. Graeme Swann was pressed into service early.

And then the debutants got their chance. Watson waded into Kerrigan with relish, taking his second over for 18 runs. Kerrigan didn't help his cause by delivering a raft of long-hops.

Rogers plugged one end up resourcefully.

As the partnership grew, England fans were left grasping at straws.

It was easy to see where the runs were leaking.

Watson rolled along ominously after lunch, ticking off a few milestones as he went.

Rogers' vigil was ended once again by Swann, who got him to edge to slip.

Michael Clarke played an odd innings, and seemed to be in trouble against every single bowler he faced. Stuart Broad settled into a hostile spell full of bouncers. Clarke struggled the most, but Watson copped the nastiest blow when he was on 91.

Watson was back on his feet after some help, but his scoring rate dropped as the hundred approached. But Australia continued to be on the ascendant.

Clarke exited before Watson got to a his third Test hundred.

Australia needed someone to support Watson if they were to really grind England. Was Steve Smith the man for the job?

It didn't matter though, since Watson wasn't leaving much work for his team-mates.

England gave their debutants another go after tea. The outcome didn't change.

While Kerrigan endured the horrors, Woakes' day seemed to light up briefly when he won an lbw decision from Kumar Dharmasena against Shane Watson.

As is his wont, Watson reviewed. It would seem that the law of averages was on his side - the replay showed it going over the stumps.

England were on the verge of deflation when Broad produced an airy pull shot from Watson in the 88th over. Kevin Pietersen was on hand to complete the tumbling catch.

We'll know tomorrow.

Nitin Sundar is social media manager at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Nitin Sundar

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Posted by Samdanh on (August 22, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

I am waiting for India tours to SA, Eng and Aus!

Posted by Dhanno on (August 21, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

Best Compilation. Some of the wittiest comments I came across today ! Didnt some one say, "Stop the press, Watto got a DRS right and on a side note also compiled an 100"!

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