England in command after first day of Boxing Day Test

Sunday, December 26, 2010

MELBOURNE - England has taken a first innings lead of 59 runs after their fast bowlers dismissed Australia for a paltry 98 on the first day of the Boxing Day Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

England were 157-0 at the close of the day’s play with Andrew Strauss (64 not out) and Alastair Cook (80 not out) at the crease.

Another commanding performance with the bat on Monday would put the tourists on course to secure the victory that would give them a 2-1 series lead, and ensure that they retain the Ashes with just a Test remaining.

Electing to bowl first after captain Andrew Strauss won the toss, James Anderson and Chris Tremlett shared eight wickets as the Australian batsmen failed to cope in ideal conditions for the visitors bowling attack.

Anderson, who came into the match under an injury cloud, was the stand-out bowler as he finished with match figures of 4-44 from 16 overs.

Tremlett (4-26) and Tim Bresnan (2-25) also deserve significant praise.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior took six catches as all the Australian wickets fell to catches behind the wicket.

Australia were always on the backfoot from the loss of the toss, as England picked up the wickets of both openers Shane Watson (five) and Phillip Hughes (16), the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Captain Ricky Ponting (10) did not look to be hampered by his fractured left finger, and was intent on aggression before Tremlett induced a fend wide of off-stump where Graeme Swann took a breathtaking snare.

Ponting’s run of poor form therefore extended to 32 runs in his last five innings.

In-form batsman Mike Hussey suffered his first batting failure of the series when he was dismissed by Anderson for eight.

Steve Smith (six), Michael Clarke (20) and Brad Haddin (five) departed to poor shots outside off-stump.

Tailenders Mitchell Johnson (0), Peter Siddle (11) and Ben Hilfenhaus (0) were also caught behind as the home team bundled out for 98 in just 43.5 overs.

It is the lowest total Australia has made against England in 54 Tests between the two countries at the MCG.

The tourists lead by 59 runs with 10 wickets remaining in the first innings. (ANI)

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