A second fifty of the match from England captain Andrew Strauss took the hosts nearer their goal of reclaiming the Ashes in the decisive fifth Test at the Oval in London yesterday.
Left-handed opener Strauss made 75 before he fell shortly before lunch, and together with Test debutant Jonathan Trott, shared a fourth-wicket stand of 118 after England had been in trouble at 39 for three.
At lunch, England in their second innings were 157 for four — a lead of 329 — with more than two days remaining in a match where victory would give them the series 2-1.
South Africa born Trott, who made 41 in the first innings, was 50 not out with Matt Prior yet to get off the mark.
Prior did though cause Ricky Ponting pain when a drive off Marcus North hit the Australia captain, fielding at silly point, in the mouth. England resumed yesterday on 58 for three, already a lead of 230. Their optimism owed much to pace bowling all-rounder Stuart Broad’s remarkable Friday burst of five wickets for 37 runs, the key haul as Australia were bowled out for just 160 in reply to the hosts’ first innings 332.
Broad, well supported by off-spinner Graeme Swann (four for 38), bowled with good accuracy and control.
Strauss resumed yesterday on 32 not out with Trott unbeaten on eight. Trott survived a huge appeal for caught behind off the day’s first ball from fast bowler Peter Siddle. But Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf was unmoved and replays suggested Trott had missed the ball. Australia had chosen not to recall off-spinner Nathan Hauritz on a pitch with a reputation for taking turn.
Their decision to remain loyal to a four-man pace attack left Ponting having to call upon the services of North, a part-time spinner. North’s second ball yesterday was glanced for four by Trott, the day’s first boundary seeing England’s fourth-wicket duo to a fifty stand in 127 balls.
Strauss’s two off Stuart Clark saw him to his own fifty in 154 balls with four fours. He then played the shots of the morning, two cover-drives off Clark in successive balls speeding to the boundary. England were in danger of squandering their advantage when Trott came to the crease.
But the 28-year-old Warwickshire batsman held his nerve and a four off Michael Clarke saw him to a maiden Test fifty in 89 balls with five fours. Just when it seemed England would get through the session without losing a wicket though, Strauss guided North to Clarke at first slip after nearly four hours at the crease.
• La New Bears 12,
Brother Elephants 4
• Uni-President Lions 6,
Sinon Bulls 3
• Brother Elephants
v La New Bears
(Chengching Lake, 5pm)
• Sinon Bulls
v Uni-President Lions
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