By Mark Meadows
MANCHESTER, England, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Captain Alastair Cook fell shortly before lunch on day three in a hammer blow to England’s hopes of salvaging the third Ashes test with the hosts still trailing Australia by 408 in the first innings on Saturday.
Cook went for 62 when he nicked left-arm quick Mitchell Starc down the leg side and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin took a smart diving catch.
Kevin Pietersen (33 not out) and Ian Bell (four not out) went to the break with under pressure England 119 for four in their daunting task of trying to match Australia’s opening 527 for seven declared, with Michael Clarke scoring 187.
England lead the five-match series 2-0 and only need a draw at Old Trafford to keep the Ashes for a third straight time.
Forecast showers for later on Saturday may help England’s cause but the morning session was played under wispy cloud.
Trott, who came in at four after nightwatchman Tim Bresnan followed opener Joe Root back to the pavilion late on day two, continued his patchy series by awkwardly edging fast bowler Ryan Harris to Clarke in the slips for five early in the day.
Cook, who destroyed Australia with his big scores in the last tour Down Under, took medication when batting on Friday to soothe a bad back but seemed fully fit as his watchful innings progressed with occasional flashes of brilliance.
Just when England looked to be heading for lunch with a bit a stability, Cook made what could prove to be a crucial error to the audible disappointment of the packed stands.
Pietersen, with a poor record at the Manchester ground and this series, played and missed his first ball from Harris but gradually settled with two straight pulled boundaries off Starc.
Bell was given not out after a Starc appeal for caught behind but television technology suggested he may have edged. (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)