Sunday, July 12, 2009

England pull off sensational draw

England have managed to pull off a stunning draw from the jaws of virtual defeat in the first Ashes Test in Cardiff.

Mitchell Johnson has got rid of Andrew Flintoff, who had just dropped anchor for England in Cardiff.

Nathan Hauritz hit back at his critics to claim two key wickets as England slumped towards a comprehensive defeat on the final day of the opening Ashes Test.

The Australian off-spinner, dismissed as a potential threat in the build-up to the start of the npower series after suffering mixed fortunes in the warm-up matches, played a key role in England's slide towards defeat on the final morning.

Hauritz claimed the key scalps of captain Andrew Strauss and wicketkeeper Matt Prior as England lost three wickets for 39 runs and slumped to 102 for five at lunch - still needing a further 137 runs just to avoid an innings defeat.

Resuming the day on 20 for two and 219 runs adrift knowing they needed to bat out the day to prevent Australia claiming victory, England suffered a desperate start with influential batsman Kevin Pietersen falling in the fourth over of the morning.

Pietersen had already survived one close call in the previous over when he shouldered arms to a full-length ball from swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus which was rejected by umpire Aleem Dar.

But Pietersen failed to heed the lesson of that narrow escape and fell in Hilfenhaus' next over when he left a similar delivery and this time it knocked out his off-stump.
Having removed England's most influential player, Australian captain Ricky Ponting turned to the spin of Hauritz, who struck in his second over to remove Strauss's 79-minute stay at the crease.

He had already gone some way towards answering his critics by out-bowling England's two spinners earlier in the match and after Strauss cut him for the first four of the morning, Hauritz struck next ball with a delivery which bounced a little more and the England captain edged behind attempting the same shot.

New batsman Paul Collingwood was fortunate not to become Hauritz's second victim of the morning when he pushed forward and gloved the ball off his pad just out of Simon Katich's reach at short leg.

Collingwood also had to stop the ball rolling on to his stumps off Hauritz's next delivery by halting it with his right boot, but it was wicketkeeper Prior who became his next victim and sent England plunging towards defeat.

Prior had already had one close shave when he edged seamer Peter Siddle through gully for his only boundary, but was completely deceived by Hauritz as he rocked back attempting a late cut, was surprised by the extra bounce and steered the ball to Michael Clarke at slip.

It left Collingwood and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff with the responsibility of surviving the remaining 34 minutes until lunch, which they achieved but they still have a further two sessions to survive if Australia are not going to claim an early Ashes advantage.

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