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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Aussies delighted by great escape
Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath celebrate after surviving England's onslaught in the third Test at Old Trafford
Lee and McGrath celebrate after surviving England's onslaught
Justin Langer says there was huge sense of relief in the Australian camp after they escaped from the third Ashes Test at old Trafford with a draw.

Langer could hardly bear to watch the final overs and feared the worst when skipper Ricky Ponting was dismissed with 24 balls remaining.

"When Brett Lee survived the last ball from Stephen Harmison, it almost felt like we'd won," said Langer.

The series against England remains tied at 1-1 with two matches left.

In his regular column for BBC Sport, Langer said: "Having sat out on the balcony for the entire day, Ricky's dismissal almost sent me into the confines of the changing room to ponder another defeat at the hands of England.

"A last strand of hope kept me out on the balcony soaking up every last inch of the electricity in the Manchester air."

Langer praised Ponting's innings of 156, adding: "As Michael Vaughan came through a tough time in the first innings, Ricky has come through and shown us the way, as all great leaders tend to do.

"He was simply magnificent and I have no doubt his performance could be the spark we all need to get back to playing our best cricket.

"The upside for us is that we are one all in the series and yet we haven't played anywhere near our best cricket yet."

Ponting, however, admitted his team are running out of time to find their best form

"We have had to hang in there because we have not done a lot right in the last two Tests."

Australia were forced to bat for an entire day - a task they had not previously managed in this series - to secure a draw in the third Test, which England dominated.

We have had to scrap and fight for everything. This is the highest intensity Test cricket I have played in the last four or five years
Ricky Ponting
"We were completely outplayed in the last Test and ended up losing by two runs," Ponting said.

"Then here we were only 50 runs short in the end, even though we have not tried to win this Test on the last day because we kept losing wickets regularly and knew we were not in a position to do so."

But while Ponting scored his team's first century of this year's Ashes at Old Trafford, his fellow top-order batsmen continued to misfire.

"That was one of my best knocks, not just a match-saving one," said Ponting, who was named Man of the Match.

"It is satisfying to put your hand up when it matters and do the things the team require as a batter and as a leader.

"We have had to scrap and fight for everything. This is the highest intensity Test cricket I have played in the last four or five years and you won't find two better tussles than you have witnessed over the last two weeks.

"It is fantastic to be part of a series which is shaping up the way this one is."


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