Aussies look to up the ante
by Cricket Archive Staff Reporter

Player:RT Ponting, MEK Hussey, A Symonds, MS Panesar, JM Anderson, MJ Clarke, SJ Harmison, GD McGrath, JL Langer, ML Hayden, CMW Read, PD Collingwood, A Flintoff, SK Warne, B Lee, SR Clark, AC Gilchrist, M Muralitharan

DateLine: 8th January 2007


19Australia will look to recover from the setback of skipper Ricky Ponting's run out and seize an innings lead in the final Ashes Test after England hit back on Wednesday's second day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.


Ponting's miscalculation provided England with an unexpected opportunity to get back into the fifth Test before Mike Hussey and Andrew Symonds helped restore the innings late on the rain-hit day. At stumps, Australia had worked their way to 188 for four and trailed England by 103 runs with the consistent Hussey on 37 off 98 balls and Symonds on 22 from 34 balls.


England, 4-0 down and facing a rare series whitewash, are defending what appears a below par 291 in their first innings. Australia were 118 for two when the Australian captain attempted a risky single off spinner Monty Panesar. Ponting, cruising along without threat from the English bowlers, was caught out of his ground by a throw from James Anderson, fielding at mid-off. Australia's big batting threat, with two centuries and 576 runs in the series, was sent on his way by the video umpire for 45 to give the tourists a crack at Australia's middle order.


There were further repercussions when No.5 Michael Clarke was caught behind to give a re-charged Steve Harmison his second wicket.


"England have got a bit of an opportunity. We'll see how things go in the morning. If we can put on a good partnership first off then we can take it away from them," retiring Australian paceman Glenn McGrath said. "We feel we can turn things around from almost any situation and win a Test match. The guys are pretty positive. Early runs tomorrow and who knows?"


Harmison, who bowled with the zest and bounce missing from the early Tests in the series, taking 2-34 off 16 overs, said England were trying to spoil the farewell party for retiring Australian stars Shane Warne, McGrath and Justin Langer.


"I think I'm the only one left that's been in this position before, 4-0 down going to Sydney and we won here last time (2002-3 tour), so we can draw on some of that," Harmison said. "We have to give it one last effort."


Australia lost both openers - Langer for 26 and Matthew Hayden for 33 - before tea. Langer followed up his three dropped catches in his 105th and final Test by gloving a leg-side catch off Anderson to wicketkeeper Chris Read. Hayden chased after a wide Harmison delivery and bottom-edged to Paul Collingwood at second slip, leaving the home side 100 for two.


Earlier, England had lost their last six wickets for 57 off 18 overs to be dismissed for 291 shortly before lunch. Skipper Andrew Flintoff fought a lone vigil for 89 as the England tail crumbled around him after the side resumed at 234 for four. It was Flintoff's best return of an undistinguished batting series, coming in 195 minutes and including 11 boundaries and a six.


Australia's pacemen Brett Lee (3-75), McGrath (3-67) and Stuart Clark (3-62) shared nine wickets, with leg-spinner Shane Warne (1-69) claiming the last scalp of Monty Panesar for a duck. The skids were put under England inside the first hour, when they lost three wickets for just 13 runs in three overs. Lee claimed two wickets in two balls and McGrath, playing in his 124th and last Test match, captured his third wicket of the innings.


Collingwood was put down by Langer at third slip off Lee when he was on his overnight score of 25. Then, on 27, Collingwood was squared up by McGrath and gave an outside edge to Adam Gilchrist to expose the brittle English tail.


Read survived a confident leg before wicket appeal before he was out next ball to Lee for two, giving Gilchrist his fourth catch. Sajid Mahmood was out next ball, popping an easy catch off the shoulder of the bat to Hayden in the gully to put Lee on a hat-trick. But Lee's hat-trick attempt was wide of off-stump, not obliging Harmison to play a shot.


Harmison lasted 24 balls before he was lbw to Clark for two and Flintoff's second half-century of the series ended when he played extravagantly outside off-stump and was caught by Gilchrist, his fifth catch, off Clark.


Panesar, who was also dropped by the butter-fingered Langer, became Warne's only wicket of the innings in his farewell Test match when he was lbw attempting to sweep, terminating England's innings. It was Warne's 1,000th wicket in Test and one-day cricket combined - 707 Test and 293 one-day international wickets. Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan heads the list of international wicket-takers with 1,104.


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