Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 20 News List

England toil as Australia fight back

SOPHIA SLOG England’s bowlers failed to produce any magic as Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich both hit centuries and Australia closed in on England’s score of 435

AFP , CARDIFF

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, right, plays on to the stumps from a ball bowled by England’s Monty Panesar while England wicketkeeper Matt Prior looks on at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

James Anderson took two wickets with the new ball and Monty Panesar finally saw off Australia captain Ricky Ponting as England fought back on yesterday’s third morning of the first Ashes Test.

Australia, at lunch at Sophia Gardens, were 348 for four in reply to England’s first-innings 435, a deficit of 87 runs.

Ponting, exactly 100 not out overnight, fell shortly before the break for 150 when, trying to force left-arm spinner Panesar through the offside, he bottom-edged onto his stumps.

His 38th Test century spanned more than five hours and saw Ponting face 224 balls with a six and 14 fours.

Australia had been scoring steadily and in largely untroubled fashion, until the new ball arrived.

Simon Katich had extended his maiden Ashes century to 122 when his near five-and-a-half hours of resistance came to an end.

The left-handed opener was hit on the boot in front of his stumps by an Anderson full toss and given out leg before wicket by West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove.

In all, Katich faced 261 balls with 12 fours and put on 239 for the second wicket with Ponting.

New batsman Michael Hussey never looked comfortable during his brief stay and when he limply edged Anderson to wicketkeeper Matt Prior for 3, Australia were 325 for three.

Michael Clarke was 19 not out and Marcus North unbeaten on nought at lunch.

There were seven overs until the new ball was available when Australia resumed on 249 for one.

Even when the new ball arrived, it took a while for England’s fortunes to improve. Anderson’s first delivery with the new ball was poorly directed and Ponting helped it on its way down to fine-leg for four.

At the other end, Flintoff came on to huge cheers from England fans willing the all-rounder to repeat his Ashes heroics of 2005, but his first delivery was so wide wicketkeeper Prior had to dive in front of first slip to take the ball.

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