England’s hopes of making further inroads into Australia’s batting line-up were undermined by a stubborn fourth wicket stand in the second Ashes Test.
Resuming the third morning on 28 for one still trailing by 523 and 324 runs away from saving the follow-on, Australia took advantage of several reprieves to frustrate England’s attack.
Captain Ricky Ponting was the biggest beneficiary and survived several close shaves to reach an unbeaten 77 while Mike Hussey progressed to 39 as Australia progressed to 151 for three by mid-afternoon.
Ponting could have fallen on 35 when he was dropped, survived a strong appeal for lbw on 45 and could have been run out on 46 but progressed to his third successive half-century in the series.
England began the third day promisingly with Matthew Hoggard claiming two wickets in a nine-over opening spell to remove opener Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn.
Hayden was outwitted by an off-cutter just outside off-stump which he chased and edged behind to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and give England an early boost.
Hoping to strike early England opened up with Hoggard and captain Andrew Flintoff, who dismissed Justin Langer the previous evening but both Ponting and Hayden were content to leave any deliveries which were wide of the stumps until Hoggard struck.
Martyn also struggled to maintain that level of discipline and was also induced into chasing a wide delivery, which this time was caught low down by Ian Bell in the gully.
Hoggard should have claimed a third wicket in his next over when Ponting attempted an ambitious pull, but Ashley Giles failed to read the flight of the ball and fumbled the opportunity at backward square leg.
It was a telling miss although James Anderson thought appealed strongly for an lbw against Ponting eight overs later while Paul Collingwood missed with a throw at the non-striker’s end when he pushed a quick single off Andrew Flintoff.
But having given England opportunities, Ponting reached his half-century in style with a pulled four off Anderson while Hussey began to come out of his shell and pulled Steve Harmison over mid-wicket for six.