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Ponting saves Australia

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August 16, 2005 00:10 IST

Ricky Ponting scored a courageous back-to-the-wall 156 as Australia escaped defeat on a dramatic final day of the third Ashes Test on Monday, breaking English hearts into a thousand pieces in the process.

- Scorecard | Complete coverage

The home side dominated the match from start to finish but Australia's captain struck his 23rd Test century in a memorable rearguard action to salvage a draw and keep the five-match series at 1-1.

The day ended with Australia's last two batsmen surviving the final 24 balls of express pace from Andrew Flintoff, who took four wickets, and Steve Harmison, while all of England's fielders crouched around them.

Australia, having been set an unlikely 423 to win, closed on 371 for nine.

Ponting held the innings together to put on 81 with Michael Clarke for the sixth wicket and 76 with Shane Warne for the eighth.

A draw seemed to be looming but there was more excitement to come.

Warne, having survived almost 22 overs and more than an hour and a half with his captain, pushed forward to Flintoff and edged to Andrew Strauss at second slip.


Strauss let the ball go straight through his hands. It bounced up off his right knee and Geraint Jones, much maligned for his wicketkeeping earlier in the game, threw himself backwards to his right to scoop up the chance with his right glove.

That left the home side with nine overs to take the final two wickets. The game finished with a flurry of appeals and near misses as the world champions ended a marathon 98-over day smiling.

The match was as nerve-racking as the second Test a week ago when England won by two runs.

Harmison took the final wicket at Edgbaston but, bowling the final over on Monday, he could not repeat the feat.

Ponting's innings was his highest against England. He batted for almost seven hours, facing 275 balls and hitting one six and 16 fours.

Flintoff picked up four for 71. Left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, so effective in the first innings, failed to exploit the wearing Old Trafford pitch, ending with nought for 93.

The fourth Test at Trent Bridge starts on August 25.

- Scorecard | Complete coverage

Tony Lawrence
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