Shane Warne helped save the follow-on for his country on Saturday as Australia reached 264 for seven on a rain-hit third day of the third Ashes test.
updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
Old Trafford:The irrepressible Shane Warne helped save the follow-on for his country on Saturday as Australia reached 264 for seven on a rain-hit third day of the third Ashes test at Old Trafford in Manchester. Warne, resuming on 45 with Australia on 214 for seven overnight, took his score to 78, his best against England, with a series of boundaries off Ashley Giles. Jason Gillespie was seven not out at the other end. Rain limits play Rain restricted the third day's play to just 14 overs in two late sessions. The legendary Manchester climate may prove to have come to Australia's rescue in what has been a thrilling third Test in the eagerly-awaited 2005 Ashes series. Rain is often a feature of the skyline and horizon above and surrounding Old Trafford and, on Saturday, it let England down as most of the morning and afternoon sessions were washed out, forcing the players to take an early lunch, then an early tea. Michael Vaughan's XI then finally took the field at 15:00 (G.M.T.), well fortified but frustrated, and they were raring to go. On the offensive Resuming on 214 for seven, with Shane Warne on 45, Australia needed 31 runs to avoid the follow-on. The leg-spinner, fresh from becoming the first bowler ever to take 600 wickets in Tests, and playing partner Jason 'Dizzy' Gillespie knew their brief. When play got underway, Warne went on the offensive immediately. He chipped Ashley Gills to Steve Harmison at deep mid-on for a single to complete a crucial half-century off 70 balls, containing six fours and one six as Australia reached 225 for seven. Warne acknowledging the applause and raising his bat to the crowd and his dressing-room - he now has the most test runs (2648) without a reaching a century in the history of the game. Rick Ponting certainly appreciated it and Warne then targeted Giles as he smacked a straight drive that just eluded Giles' grasp as he missed a very difficult caught-and-bowled opportunity. Close calls The ball then ricocheted off the stumps, with Gillespie out of his ground, and flew to the boundary ropes for four runs. Umpire Billy Bowden looked bewildered as he had turned his back on the action, but his fellow umpire Steve Bucknor signalled four runs and Bowden confirmed this. Then, with the very next ball, Warne advanced down the pitch to try and launch Giles over the ropes, but was beaten by both the flight and turn off the pitch before Geraint Jones missed the stumping. This series has featured some great batting from the wicketkeeper, but he still has work to do behind the stumps. Running for cover Then, with what turned out to the last ball before another rain interruption, Warne danced down the pitch again and straight-drove Giles over mid-off for four runs before the umbrellas went up. Warne and Gillespie talked before the umpires conferred and offered the batsmen the light. The series is tied at 1-1. England lost the first Test at Lord's by 239 runs last month. The hosts then bounced back to win the second Test by two runs at Edgbaston, the narrowest win ever in Ashes history. (AP)