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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 10:03 GMT
Australia fightback stuns England
THIRD TEST, PERTH, DAY TWO (CLOSE):
ENGLAND 215 v AUSTRALIA 244 & 119-1

By Anna Thompson

Australia batsman Matthew Hayden was 57 not out at the close
Hayden looked rock solid as Australia moved into a dominant position

England's grip on the Ashes urn appeared to be slipping away after Australia ended day two of the Perth Test on 119-1 - a lead of 148.

England need to at least draw the third Test to keep their defence of the Ashes alive after losing the first two games.

But they were dismissed for only 215, despite Kevin Pietersen making 70 and Monty Panesar and Steve Harmison adding 40 for the final wicket.

At the close, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden were both on 57 for Australia.

Matthew Hoggard had given England hope when he found some inswing to dislodge Justin Langer's middle stump and send him on his way for a first-ball duck.

But their joy was short-lived as Hayden and Ponting looked increasingly assured at the crease after a couple of uncomfortable moments for Ponting when umpire Rudi Koertzen turned down confident lbw appeals.

Ponting, who is averaging more than 100 in the series, registered his 36th Test fifty and Hayden, whose place in the side had been under threat, chipped in with his 27th half-century.

Overall, it was a hugely disappointing day for England, who had been hoping to build a substantial first innings lead after bowling Australia out for 244.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen hit eight fours and a six in his 70

They resumed on 51-2 but Australia's seamers made life very difficult for Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss and sure enough the breakthrough did not take long in coming.

In the fourth over of the morning Collingwood, on 11, was enticed into a loose shot by Glenn McGrath and the chance was snaffled by Hayden at gully.

The onus was then on Strauss and Pietersen but just as they were beginning to look comfortable at the crease, luck turned against them.

After moving on to 42, his highest score of the series, with a glorious four, Strauss was adjudged to have edged behind off Stuart Clark.

He seemed shocked to see umpire Rudi Koertzen raise his finger and replays showed no apparent contact between bat and ball.

It was the second time in successive Tests he had been on the wrong end of a decision, having been given out caught off Shane Warne in Adelaide when the ball came off his pad.

England were reeling on 82-4 and the wave of unease continued as captain Andrew Flintoff failed once again, caught by Warne in the slips off medium-pacer Andrew Symonds for 13.

Geraint Jones then lasted all of four balls for the first duck of his Test career in his 52nd innings, which had been a world record, and there was no excuse for his sloppy shot off Symonds which was caught by Justin Langer, sending England in to lunch at 122-6.

606: DEBATE
TZ

Symonds, playing in his first Test of the series after the retirement of Damien Martyn, was delighted with his four over spell which yielded two wickets and cost just eight runs.

And England's decline continued soon after lunch when Sajid Mahmood, batting at number eight, top-edged an attempted cut off Clark to the keeper and went for 10.

Matthew Hoggard hung around with Pietersen for 47 minutes as they added 27 for the eighth wicket and it gave Pietersen the chance to record his eighth Test fifty.

Hoggard was eventually fooled by a leg-break from Warne and was taken at slip by Hayden after making four off 39 balls.

Pietersen was dropped by McGrath on 53 but paid the price for another heave-ho when Symonds took a catch in the deep to give Brett Lee his second wicket of the innings.

Then came the fun and games from Harmison and Panesar, who smashed everything Australia could throw at them in the highest partnership of England's innings.

Harmison finally went for 23, leaving Panesar stranded on 16 not out, as Clark struck again to finish with 3-49.

The final session was all Australia after the shock of losing Langer and by the time Hayden glanced the last ball of play to the fine-leg boundary, it looked as the title of Ashes holders which England won only 15 months ago would be short-lived.



SEE ALSO
Aussies determined to keep focus
15 Dec 06 |  England
Panesar makes dream Ashes debut
14 Dec 06 |  England


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