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Ashes 2019: New-ball in the Morning Will be Crucial: Ponting

Ponting praised the efforts of Root, who prior to this innings was averaging just 19.8 and coming off two ducks.

Cricketnext Staff |August 25, 2019, 2:19 PM IST
Ashes 2019: New-ball in the Morning Will be Crucial: Ponting

A gritty hand by captain Joe Root has kept England alive in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, but former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting is confident that the visitors have enough of a cushion and that the contest hinges on the second new ball which will be available after eight overs on Sunday.

Both teams walked off the field at 7pm local time to a standing ovation from the packed crowd with England 3-156, still requiring 203 more runs to win to level the series 1-1. A win for Australia would mean they’ll retain the urn they won in 2017/18 on home soil.

"I know England have played really well this afternoon, they dug deep," Ponting told cricket.com.au.

"Denly and Root's partnership was outstanding, but I think Australia has still got plenty of runs.

"We've seen (Josh) Hazlewood (2-35) and (Pat) Cummins (1-33) bowl outstandingly well right through the game and I think as the game goes on Nathan Lyon (0-42) is going to come in to it more and more."

"The wicket looks like it's flattened out considerably late this afternoon but there's a new ball around the corner tomorrow morning."

"It's been a new-ball wicket all game. The other thing we've seen is in the game it has been a really hard wicket for anyone to come in and start on."

Australia have been in command of the Test for most parts and looked set to romp home to victory having set the English a target of 359 and, knocking over Rory Burns and Jason Roy within seven overs.

But given the time lost due to rain on day one and the breakneck speed at which wickets have fallen, the fourth innings of the Test started after just 155.2 overs and 15 minutes before lunch on the third day allowing England to believe that the steep chase could be completed.

"Even when Australia got to (a lead of) 359, it was not like it was a 359 on a fifth-day pitch," Ponting said.

"It was a 359 on a wicket that's probably at its absolute best to bat on. The Aussies were wary of that this morning."

"I spoke to a few of them early on this morning, they understood they had to get as many runs as they could."

"But with not much in the track they've still got three outstanding seamers and the best spinner in the world, so they should be OK."

England's 3-156 from 72 overs in their second innings is a stark contrast to the first innings when they fell like a pack of cards and were bowled out for 67.

Root and Denly's partnership has steadied the ship and the pair have shown patience, discipline and resilience.

Considering the Ashes is on the line, Ponting believes this kind of rear-guard action was on the cards.

"I said to Justin (Langer, Australia coach) this morning I expected this would happen," he said.

"If it didn't happen today for England it's series over, it's not going to happen."

"To be fair, Denly has looked quite good through the series."

"Both Denly and Root have had a fair bit of luck today; a lot of balls have gone past the outside edge, a few lbw shouts have been very close, but anyone who's got runs on this wicket has had to have their fair share of luck."

"They've dug deep, they've played well and kept themselves in the game."

Ponting praised the efforts of Root, who prior to this innings was averaging just 19.8 and coming off two ducks.

"Joe Root's played beautifully and that's what you expect from your captain in situations like this,” he said.

“In an Ashes series when your backs are to the wall, you need your captain to stand up and he's done it today."

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