FIFTH TEST, SYDNEY, DAY TWO (stumps)
England 291; Australia 188-4
Brett Lee celebrates as Chris Read trudges back to the pavilion
England produced an improved bowling performance but Australia ended day two of the final Ashes Test on 188-4 in reply to the tourists' 291 all out.
Steve Harmison took 2-34 and England had the bonus of Ricky Ponting's wicket for 45 - the Aussie captain was in fine touch before running himself out.
Earlier, England subsided quickly from an overnight 234-4 but captain Andrew Flintoff (89) emerged with credit.
Disappointingly, England's last five men produced only four runs.
Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark all finished with three wickets.
The second new ball was taken as soon as play began on Wednesday and McGrath and Lee looked dangerous immediately.
Paul Collingwood was dropped by Justin Langer in the slips in Lee's first over, but in any case added just two to his overnight 25 before edging a McGrath lifter to wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist.
I am frustrated myself but it is not through lack of effort
Chris Read never settled and soon gave Gilchrist another catch off Lee, who followed up by removing Sajid Mahmood for a golden duck.
Mahmood, batting at least two places too high at number eight, fended away amateurishly for Matthew Hayden to take the easiest catch imaginable at gully.
Though he struggled to put bat to ball, Harmison did better than his fellow tail-enders, lasting 24 balls to allow Flintoff to go from 61 to 82.
The England skipper moved to within sight of his sixth Test century - and first since the summer of 2005.
But wickets were falling and he had to take more and more risks, so it was no huge surprise when he nicked a big drive behind to be the ninth man out.
And the final wicket of the innings was Shane Warne's 1,000th in international cricket, Monty Panesar missing an attempted sweep to be adjudged lbw.
Langer survived the one over bowled by England before lunch and emerged after the interval to play a range of shots with real panache.
But having got to 26 quickly he contrived to glove a ball from James Anderson down the leg-side, Read taking the catch.
Ponting and Hayden were given plenty of balls to attack - which the Australian bowlers had not done when England batted.
And the tourists had to wait until the score had got to 100 before the next wicket came - Hayden lazily steering a wide ball from Harmison to Collingwood in the slips.
When Ponting began to blossom after tea, hitting two terrific pull shots off Anderson, things looked ominous for England.
But a daft decision to try to steal a single to mid-on ended Ponting's innings, Anderson hitting middle stump with his sharp throw.
Michael Clarke then edged a good ball from Harmison to Read, whereupon the heavens opened with Australia 155-4.
When conditions abated, Andrew Symonds and Michael Hussey had to weather a difficult 12 overs before stumps.
England desperately wanted another wicket, but it was not to be, and the amazingly consistent Hussey (37 not out) was beginning to look threatening.
Symonds took two massive risks in the final over of the day, bowled by Panesar, but lived to fight another day on 22.