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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 07:40 GMT
England suffer as Ponting shines
Australia 346-3 v England

Ricky Ponting
Ponting led by example as Australia dominated the opening day
Captain Ricky Ponting served notice of Australia's determination to regain the Ashes by hitting a superb opening day century against England in Brisbane.

The home side were 346-3 at stumps, with Ponting (137) and Mike Hussey (63) sharing an unbroken stand of 148.

Andrew Flintoff provided England's main threat, dismissing Matthew Hayden (21) and Justin Langer (82).

Ashley Giles had Damien Martyn (29) caught at slip but England ended the day weary and short of inspiration.

Earlier this year, Ponting admitted Australia had been "embarrassed and ashamed" after their 2-1 defeat last year.

And he looked like a man bent on laying down a marker not just for the opening Test, but for the entire five-match series, as he made the most of an excellent batting pitch.

There were only a couple of anxious moments during Ponting's innings, once when he played the ball uppishly past gully and later on 72 when Giles had a confident lbw shout turned down after he missed an attempted sweep.

Prior to the match, much had been made of the need to seize the initiative as England did at Lord's last year when Steve Harmison peppered Justin Langer and Ponting with short deliveries.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the opening day's play

This time, however, Harmison was short on control and confidence after starting things off with a wide which Langer could not have reached if he had been holding three bats glued end to end as Flintoff took it at second slip.

Four boundaries followed in his first two overs and Harmison found himself confined to fielding duties before he had even got properly warmed up.

The total went past 50 in the 11th over as Langer sliced Matthew Hoggard away past point, prompting Flintoff to bring himself into the attack.

Once again he proved a galvanising force for the team as he angled an excellent delivery across Hayden and the big left-hander edged to Paul Collingwood at second slip.

Ponting was soon into his stride by pulling a long-hop away to mid-wicket and then punching the next ball through mid-off for a second boundary - shots he was to repeat all too frequently as England erred in line and length.

The home side continued in the same positive vein after lunch, but Flintoff stuck to his task and was rewarded again when Langer, on 82, carved the ball to Kevin Pietersen at point.

Andrew Flintoff takes a wicket
Skipper Flintoff provided England's main cutting edge

Harmison bowled a better spell during the afternoon without ever looking like his old self and it was Giles who finally achieved another breakthrough.

He tempted Martyn into a late cut, but he misjudged the bounce and Collingwood, moving smartly to his right, made the catch look easy.

Next up for Australia was Hussey, a prolific scorer since making his Test debut 12 months ago, but new to the high-pressure atmosphere of an Ashes contest.

He showed no sign of nerves, however as he stroked Flintoff through mid-off for four and then whipped Giles away through the leg-side for four more.

Despite that, Giles could be well satisfied with figures of 1-51 from 18 overs in his first Test for 12 months after being preferred to Monty Panesar.

Giles was not the only England spinner in action as Flintoff resorted to giving Pietersen an extended spell of off-spin in an attempt to separate Australia's fourth-wicket pair.

Pietersen showed he had suffered no serious damage when he jarred his knee in the field earlier in the day, but the turn and bounce he obtained provided a warning about what England can expect from Shane Warne later in the game.

Ponting's hundred eventually arrived with a push through the on-side off Hoggard, and in the process he equalled Steve Waugh's Australian Test record of 32 three-figure scores.

So deflated were England that Flintoff delayed taking the second new ball, and even when he did, he did not deem it necessary to summon Harmison from the deep, a decision hardly likely to boost the Durham paceman's self-belief.





Ponting elated with Aussie start
23 Nov 06 |  England
Giles predicts England fightback
23 Nov 06 |  England


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