Harris: I think it's pretty evenly poised

Australia

Fast bowler Ryan Harris looked forward to capitalising on a pitch that has not deteriorated as much as anticipated, come day four of the penultimate Ashes Test in Chester-le-Street on Monday.

Fast bowler Ryan Harris looked forward to capitalising on a pitch that has not deteriorated as much as anticipated, come day four of the penultimate Ashes Test in Chester-le-Street on Monday.

Australia's leading wicket-taker in the series so far, Harris added the scalps of openers Alastair Cook and Joe Root and the right-handed Jonathan Trott on Sunday, when England slipped to 49 for three.

44 from the in-form Kevin Pietersen and 105 not out from perennial centurion Ian Bell, however, resurrected the innings en route to 234 for five – and a lead of 202 at the Riverside Ground.

Spinner Nathan Lyon, later, got rid of Pietersen and the attacking Jonny Bairstow – while fellow slow bowler Steven Smith was brought into the attack the first time this month. Harris' fine form, Lyon's promise and Smith's introduction suggested the pitch will continue to assist the bowlers.

"The wicket's holding together pretty well. It might spin a little bit but the ball's going through nicely. I think it's pretty evenly poised to be honest. It's hard to say a target. But it is not breaking up as much as we probably thought," said Harris.

"It hasn't had as much sun as it could have had. If it had of been sunny of the past three days it might have been different and dried out a little bit more. There a couple that keep low and misbehave but that's going to happen."

The injury-prone right-armer, who has accrued a third consecutive Test for the first time in his three-year career, delighted in the positive reaction of his body to the physical pressure of such an uncharacteristically heavy workload.

"I'm a little bit tired, but I feel good. I've come out of it nice and strong. I feel really confident in my body. I've had a really good build-up. Unlike in the past I've gone from not bowling many overs to bowling lots of overs, whereas this time I've spent plenty of time on the Australian A tour and bowled lots and lots of overs and finished off the first-class season back in Queensland and bowled lots and lots of overs," he added.

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