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Australia fight for survival against England
Julian Linden | January 05, 2003 14:50 IST
Australia were facing the prospect of their first defeat at home in more than four years after a late batting collapse left England in control of the fifth Ashes Test on Sunday.
Chasing a near-impossible 452 to complete an historic 5-0 series whitewash following Michael Vaughan's masterful 183, Australia crumbled to 25 for three before closing on 91 without further loss after the fourth day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Pace bowler Andy Caddick trapped Justin Langer for three and Ricky Ponting for 11 while Matthew Hoggard sent a furious Matthew Hayden on his way when he struck him on the pads for two.
Langer was the victim of a terrible umpiring decision, one of many in this match, while Hayden also looked unlucky as Australian frustration began to boil over.
Television footage showed a glass panel outside the team room shattered shortly after Hayden's dismissal although there was no immediate confirmation over how it was broken.
After being comprehensively outplayed in the first three Tests and also losing the fourth, England's cricketers have played with renewed enthusiasm and determination in the final match in the hope of avoiding the humiliation of their first 5-0 Ashes loss in 83 years.
They trailed Australia by one run on the first innings but Vaughan's fine innings out of a team total of 452 for nine declared on Sunday swung the match England's way and allowed them to press for a consolation victory on the final day of an enthralling Test.
Australia have not lost a Test at home since their 12-run defeat to England at Melbourne in December 1998, again after the series had been decided.
Although they have a mathematical chance of victory with 361 still required, their best hopes are of batting through the last day to save the match on a rapidly deteriorating pitch.
Vaughan left the SCG to a standing ovation after another magnificent display over six-and-a-half hours that featured 27 fours and a six off 279 balls.
The Yorkshire opener had begun the day on 113, completing his third hundred of the series the previous day, and continued to plunder runs from an Australian attack badly missing the potency of injured strike bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
He shared a 189-run partnership with Nasser Hussain for the third wicket before his captain was dismissed for 72, caught behind off the last ball before lunch.
His departure triggered a late collapse with Robert Key (14), Vaughan (183), John Crawley (eight), Richard Dawson (12) and Caddick (eight) all falling in quick succession.
Vaughan, also the victim of a dubious umpiring decision when given out lbw to Bichel, finished the series with 663 runs at an average of 63.30, including earlier scores of 177 and 145.
A cautious Hussain, perhaps more concerned about avoiding a whitewash than winning the game, resisted the temptation to make an early declaration even though no team has ever made more than 276 to win a Test batting last in Sydney.
He called an end to proceedings with Alec Stewart (38 not out) and a slogging Steve Harmison (20 not out) in full flow.
Only eight teams in Test history have completed whitewashes over a five-match series.