Ashes: Alastair Cook builds England reply in Sydney
Fifth Ashes Test: Australia 280 v England 167-3 (stumps, day two) Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Dates: 3-7 Jan (resumes 2300 GMT each day) Coverage: Live on Test Match Special (from 2245 GMT) on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; TMS highlights online (UK only) and day's review on the
live text on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4 Match scorecard
Opener Cook was once again the mainstay of England's reply
By Oliver Brett
England ended an absorbing second day of the final Ashes Test on 167-3 in reply to Australia's 280 all out, with Alastair Cook still there on 61.
Cook thought he was out on 46, lofting a catch to mid-on off Michael Beer.
But umpire Billy Bowden checked with the TV official as he suspected a possible no-ball, and to the disbelief of Aussie fans Cook was reprieved.
Australia, who began the day on 134-4, were indebted to Mitchell Johnson, who hit 53 in a lower-order recovery.
Johnson also picked up the wickets of Jonathan Trott, who registered his first duck in Test cricket, and Kevin Pietersen (36). Andrew Strauss had earlier smashed 60 from only 58 balls in an aggressive start to England's reply.
Cook's dramatic escape allowed him to become the second youngest batsman, behind Sachin Tendulkar, to notch 5,000 Test runs. And his haul for the series, currently at 638, is already five runs better than Michael Vaughan's 2002-03 aggregate.
The one flat period of the day for England came when Australia's ninth-wicket pair, of Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, put on 76 in 15 overs.
That allowed the hosts to recover from 189-8, but Strauss and Cook were determined not to allow the Aussies to use it as a catalyst to spark havoc in the England top order.
And a strong session with the bat on the third morning should ensure a healthy lead for the tourists, who only need to avoid defeat in Sydney to win the series.
With 31 overs lost on day one because of rain, play began half an hour early on Tuesday and England's bowlers were quick to get among the Australian middle and lower order.
Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, together at the resumption, have produced some impressive stands thus far in the series - but were parted in the fourth over when a flat-footed flash outside off stump by Haddin gave James Anderson his first wicket of the match.
Hussey and Steve Smith attempted another patient rebuild against the usual disciplined England bowling - at one point Australia were scoring slower than they had in any innings since 1999.
But with his last ball of a cursory two-over spell as England prepared to take the new ball, Paul Collingwood ousted Hussey for 33 with a ball that took a thick inside edge before bobbling on to his stumps off his pads.
Johnson sympathises with Beer
At 171-6 Australia's score did not look competitive on a wicket that appeared to be flattening out. So when Anderson picked up two more wickets in a single over by removing Smith (18) and Peter Siddle (2) - both edging to slip - to make it 189-8, the hosts looked in really poor shape.
They recovered through Johnson and Hilfenhaus, who were rewarded for showing more ambition than any of the specialist batsmen. While there were one or two lucky moments, particularly for Hilfenhaus, there was also some clean ball-striking.
Hilfenhaus, who hit 34, launched a terrific six off Tim Bresnan high over wide mid-on and in the next over Johnson did the same to Graeme Swann.
The stand had gone beyond nuisance value for England when Bresnan cranked up his speed and pegged back Johnson's off-stump to silence a growing swell of approval from the Australian spectators.
Hilfenhaus mowed one more four off Swann before becoming Anderson's 21st victim of the series as he finished with 4-66.
As the roller came out, the question was: would Australia's late rally provide renewed belief for their bowlers, or would England's batsmen instead take the view that this was a better wicket to bat on than it had appeared during the early exchanges?
Paul Collingwood picked up the vital wicket of Mike Hussey
It was very much the second scenario leading up to tea - which came at 73-0 from 16 overs - and in the immediate aftermath.
But whereas before the interval Australia bowled far too short, allowing Strauss and Cook to cut and pull to their heart's content, they pitched the ball up afterwards and began to look more dangerous.
In the 23rd over Strauss got a superb ball from Hilfenhaus, bowled from around the wicket, which swung in and seamed away a touch, flicking off stump.
Trott lasted only six balls, dragging an innocuous delivery from Johnson into his stumps, and with 98-0 suddenly becoming 99-2 there were fears that the match might be following a similar course to the Perth Test.
There, England were 78-0 replying to Australia's 268 before collapsing to 187 all out en route to a 267-run defeat.
Cook and new man Pietersen generally adopted an intelligent mix of caution and positivity, hitting some fine drives and leg-glances to maintain a decent run rate. But when the debutant left-arm spinner Beer was in his third over, it seemed for all the world that the Aussies had removed Cook.
However, in an incident that mirrored Matt Prior's moment of good fortune in Melbourne, Cook was urged to remain at the wicket by umpire Bowden while the Aussies rushed to congratulate Beer and the catcher, Hilfenhaus.
Replays confirmed a no-ball, and England looked well set to get through to stumps without any further drama - until Pietersen, on 36, top-edged a hook off Johnson. Beer completed a neat catch at fine leg.
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