Eng, Aus set for third Test

The top two teams in the world, Australia and England, are facing off for the oldest prize in cricket – Ashes Test.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Old Trafford:The top two teams in the world, Australia and England, are facing off for the oldest prize in cricket. After more than a decade, the England team looks likely it may reclaim the Ashes Test. The hosts go into the third Test on Thursday bouyed by the confidence of their cliffhanger of a win in Edgbaston. There are more encouraging signs for England, as injuries to pace spearhead Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee leave the Aussies with a major handicap. While McGrath's torn ligament in the right ankle may keep him out for the rest of the series, Lee could also miss the Old Trafford test because of a knee injury. The New South Wales bowler was only discharged from hospital on Wednesday morning. The injury concerns have now forced the Aussie selectors to call up seamer Stuart Clark as cover. Best chance England know this is probably their best chance at winning back the Ashes after 18 years. They have no injury concerns so far and with Andrew Flintoff showing awesome form in the Edgbaston match the hosts must fancy their chances. The all rounder touted as Ian Botham's worthy successor for years chose the biggest stage of all to stamp his authority, recreating Beefy's magic to produce his best batting and bowling performance against Australia. For Australia, the man in focus will be Shane Warne. The controversial leg-spinner needs just one wicket to become the first bowler to take 600 wickets in Tests. And with the Old Trafford pitch expected to assist spin Warne will definitely have a crucial role in Manchester. Aussie problems But Steve Harmison has been the most successful bowler on this ground this season. And he's the one bowler who's consistently troubled the Aussie top order in this series. The English bowling attack of Harmison, Jones, Flintoff and Hoggard seem to have a definite edge over their Aussie counterparts. And injuries to Lee and McGrath and the poor form of Gillespie means Australia might just bring in Stuart MacGill as the second spinner alongside Warne. But he will be up against Kevin Pietersen, who's looked clearly the most accomplished batsman in the England side. With three 50s already in the series, Pietersen has answered all critics who questioned his selection ahead of veteran Graham Thorpe But this is one team that can never be underestimated as was evident from their fight back in the second test. However, England know this is probably their best chance of going 2-1 up in the series to put the world champions under even more pressure.

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