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Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 18:44 UK

The Ashes: Middle order

England's Kevin Pietersen and Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke

The Australian triumvirate of Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke have not been in prolific form coming into the Ashes.

Ponting has only one century in his last 11 Tests while Hussey was ruthlessly exposed by South Africa, but the trio are proven world-class performers.

Kevin Pietersen has been relatively muted with the bat since his resignation as England captain, but will be reinvigorated for the greatest battle of all.

The nascent confidence of Ravi Bopara is likely to be tested by Australia's quicks batting at three, while Paul Collingwood will need early runs to keep the vultures from circling.

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