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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Weather halts strong Aussie start
Fifth Test, The Oval, day two (stumps):
England 373 v Australia 112-0

Langer took two sixes off Giles' first over

Australia openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden shared their first century stand of the summer in reply to England's 373 in the fifth Test.

But bad light and rain ended play just after tea with Australia 112-0. Langer, who was dropped off Paul Collingwood on 53, was 75 not out and Hayden on 32.

Weekend rain is forecast with England needing only to draw to win the Ashes.

Giles earlier hit 32 and Steve Harmison was 20 not out when Giles was lbw to Shane Warne, who took 6-122.

With Australia requiring victory, there was some surprise that the batsmen accepted the offer of the light.

With little wind, the dark clouds remained around the South London ground throughout the evening, and rain finally arrived to see play called off at 1745 BST.

England's fielders got as far as coming down the steps at one point, only to be sent back by the umpires.

Two hours of play were lost, but one extra hour can be added to subsequent days, if possible.

In humid conditions, there had been some swing on offer in seven overs before the lunch break and both Langer and Hayden looked far from comfortable.

However, with just three front-line pace bowlers available in Simon Jones' absence, the duo seemed happy to settle in and wait for the back-up bowling.

Langer showed his appetite by smashing two sixes immediately spinner Giles appeared in the attack, the first over long off, the second hoisted over midwicket.

Umpires Billy Bowden and Rudi Koertzen
Umpires Bowden and Koertzen kept an eye on continuing bad light

That took them past their previous best partnership of the series, the 58 shared in the first innings at Old Trafford, and Langer reached 50 from 63 balls.

New call-up Collingwood was more threatening as he gained a little movement though the air.

And he could have dismissed Langer in his second over had first slip Marcus Trescothick held onto an edge that was high and slightly to his right.

Denied wickets to cheer, England fans instead celebrated the arrival of substitute fielder Gary Pratt, responsible for the controversial run out of Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting in the last Test.

With the light as it was, if we had lost a wicket it might have been difficult for the new guys to come in
Justin Langer

England had begun the day 319-7, knowing their tail needed to bat well to boost what looked like a sub-par offering from their top order.

But their last front-line batsman, Geraint Jones, did not last long he was bowled by Brett Lee for 25, playing down the wrong line to a delivery that swung in and straightened.

Australia were frustrated for the next 45 minutes, partly because of the luck enjoyed by Giles and Matthew Hoggard and partly though their own fault.

Ponting refused to opt for all-out attack in the field, and Giles was happy to take singles in the gaps from some indisciplined bowling.

Harmison crashed three successive boundaries off Brett Lee
Harmison crashed three successive boundaries off Lee

But the Warwickshire man was given not out on 23 by umpire Rudi Koertzen when he appeared to edge McGrath behind.

McGrath, who had seen Hoggard dropped by Ponting at second slip earlier in the same over, made his exasperation plain to the South African official.

Hoggard faced 36 balls in all, leaving most of them, for his two runs, and 30 of those came before he got off the mark.

It was umpire Billy Bowden who eventually gave Giles out, lbw to Warne to a delivery that was high and apparently going down leg side.

Despite the doubts, it remained Warne's 34th wicket of the series, matching the leg-spinner's best Ashes tally set in 1993.

Giles had stuck around long enough to help Harmison have some fun, the England last man taking three boundaries off successive balls from Lee.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: England spinner Ashley Giles


Interview: Australia's Justin Langer



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