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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 07:04 GMT
Australia build massive advantage
FOURTH TEST, MELBOURNE, DAY TWO (STUMPS): AUSTRALIA 372-7 v ENGLAND 159

By Paresh Soni

Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds took the game away from England with a superb partnership
Symonds celebrated his century in style with friend Hayden
Andrew Symonds hit a fine maiden Test century and Matthew Hayden plundered 153 as Australia ended day two of the fourth Test 213 runs ahead of England.

Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison struck in the morning to leave the Aussies on 84-5, 75 behind.

But Symonds (154) and Hayden added 279 before the latter and Adam Gilchrist fell to Sajid Mahmood before stumps.

Australia - 3-0 up in the series - closed on 372-7, with England looking weary and short of inspiration.

It was a complete turnaround from the first session, when the tourists put their Boxing Day batting misery behind them with a fine bowling display.

Flintoff and Hoggard caused Ricky Ponting and Hayden problems with a combination of probing lines and movement through the air.

Ponting skied a pull off Flintoff to Alastair Cook at mid-wicket before Hoggard, who was carrying a slight rib injury, comprehensively bowled the prolific Mike Hussey.

606 DEBATE: Your thoughts on the day's play

When Harmison produced a pearler that bounced and seamed away to have Michael Clarke caught behind in his first over, England were in charge.

However, with clouds gathering over the MCG, things stopped happening for them.

Hayden and Symonds did have to ride their luck early on, looking nervous outside off-stump.

Sajid Mahmood celebrates the dismissal of Matthew Hayden
Mahmood recovered to take two wickets late in the day

And the stand could have ended two balls after lunch if Mahmood had hit the target from mid-off and run out Hayden.

But it was not long before the shackles which had previously prevented Symonds from blossoming as a Test player were cast off and he found the deep boundaries with embarrassing ease at times.

Hoggard was thrashed high over cover off successive deliveries and lofted brutally over mid-wicket and there were scenes of delirium when he battered Paul Collingwood over long-on to reach three figures against the country of his birth.

Symonds celebrated further by blasting Kevin Pietersen over deep mid-wicket and down the ground before bludgeoning Hoggard twice through the covers in awesome displays of his power.

Friend and fellow Queenslander Hayden was inspired by that aggression and also freed his arms.

He crashed left-arm spinner Monty Panesar down the ground for six and over wide mid-on to bring up his fifth century in the last six Tests at the MCG.

His increasing contempt for the bowling was illustrated when he dispatched the wayward Mahmood over long-on for a mighty six.

Mahmood returned late in the day to induce edges from Hayden and Gilchrist to the wicket-keeper and Collingwood at second slip.

And England did have reasonable shouts for lbw against Symonds on 52 and 142 from Panesar and Flintoff.

But by the end even the 31-year-old's mis-timed shots were flying away to all parts, with the force very much with him and his team.

SEE ALSO
England's bowling plans revealed
27 Dec 06 |  England
Symonds century delights Aussies
27 Dec 06 |  England


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