Andrew Strauss‘ unbeaten 161 gave England an excellent start in the 2nd nPower test against Australia. Adding 196 for the opening wicket with Alastair Cook, England dominated the opening exchanges with some very ordinary bowling from Mitchell Johnson in particular.
Australia pegged England back in the final session, taking 4 English wickets as their middle order struggled against the swinging ball. England ended the day 364/6 with the game firmly in the balance.
The first action of the day came from Andrew Strauss, crashing a short, wide delivery from Mitchell Johnson to the cover boundary, two balls later Johnson drifted onto Strauss’ leg stump, and the ball got the same treatment, this time flicked to the mid wicket boundary.
Alastair Cook was then fortunate to survive, a fuller ball from Hilfenhaus edged just to the left of a diving Ricky Ponting. It was Johnson who was struggling however, in a repeat of his previous over, Strauss crashed a short wide ball square, then the next ball Johnson over compensated by bowling a full-ish ball on Strauss’ pads – again the ball was clipped behind square for four.
It wasn’t only Johnson who was being hit for boundaries, a Hilfenhaus short ball just sat up nicely for Cook to pull for four. England passed the 50 mark with little trouble after 15 overs. Johnson continued to bowl some real loose deliveries – which – like the rest of the of them – got the treatment for Alastair Cook. In 7 overs Johnson was going at nearly 7 runs an over – and had conceeded 10 boundaries.
Peter Siddle was causing problems using the slope to move the ball away from the left handers. Cook in particular left a couple of deliveries that were mighty close to his stumps. Without success from the other end, Ponting turned to spinner Nathan Hauritz to try and make the breakthrough. England reached 100 without loss off 24.3 overs.
England continued their dominance right up until the lunchbreak – the Australian seamers struggling with their accuracy – and England entering lunch 126 without loss – without question England’s session.
After the break control was still illuding Ricky Ponting, Cook taking on Nathan Hauritz with a slog sweep over mid wicket for 4. Australia began to make mistakes, Ben Hilfenhaus bought an edge from Andrew Strauss, only to hear the no ball call from the umpire – Brad Haddin dropping the ball aswell could do little to help his confidence. Andrew Strauss bought up his 50 two balls later as England passed 150 without blemish.
If things weren’t bad enough for Ricky Ponting, they got worse when Nathan Hauritz dislocated a finger on his spinning hand attempting to claim a return catch off Andrew Strauss , Marcus North was rushed into the attack mid over.
England simply kept motoring along, as Mitchell Johnson‘s return to the attack bought him the same struggles as in the morning session. But as normally happens with wayward bowling, Johnson got one on the straight and narrow, Cook was trapped in front LBW for 95, England were 196/1.
Ravi Bopara came out and played his shots, but his aggression didn’t last very long, as he was too trapped LBW by Ben Hilfenhaus – 18 off 19 balls – a whole lot of nothing. Two out swinging deliveries followed by one which holds its line.
Hiflenhaus immeadiatly caused Kevin Pietersen problems with the swinging ball, Pietersen playing and missing a couple of times in his first over. On the stroke of tea, Pietersen was caught all ends up by a short ball, an attempted hook that – in the end – was played so badly and uncontrollably, it didn’t fall to a fielder. With Pietersen safely off strike, Andrew Strauss struck a three through backward point to bring up his hundred off 178 balls.
Peter Siddle struck after tea, a feather edge from a driving Kevin Pietersen, caught begind, 267/3 and Australia were beginning to creep back into the game. Siddle continued to trouble – Strauss flashing at one that flew through Michael Hussey at gully for 4.
Paul Collingwood was unable to build on his match saving knock at Cardiff, advancing down the wicket against Michael Clarke, he could only skew a ball to Peter Siddle. Matt Prior fell quickly – likewise at Cardiff – to the in swinger off Mitchell Johnson through the gate. Australia weren’t done there, Andrew Flintoff edging Hilfenhaus to Ricky Ponting – England now floundering on 333/6 and struggling against the swinging ball.
Andrew Strauss passed 150 – as he and Stuart Broad batted through to the end of the day , Strauss 161 not out, England 364/6 – the game in the balance once again.
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