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Australia score dramatic victory
Julian Linden | December 05, 2006 10:58 IST
Last Updated: December 05, 2006 14:55 IST
Australia beat England by six wickets with 19 balls to spare on an extraordinary final day to win the second Test and take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes series at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.
Australia needed 168 for victory off 36 overs after England's batting inexplicably crumbled, the touring side losing their last nine wickets for 60 runs to be all out for just 129.
Australia lost Justin Langer (7), Matthew Hayden (18), man-of-the-match Ricky Ponting (49) and Damien Martyn (5) during a frantic run-chase before Mike Hussey (61 not out) and Michael Clarke (21 not out) steered them to victory in the nick of time.
England had pulled off one of the greatest upsets in cricket history to win the Ashes at home last year but would appear to need a miracle to retain the tiny urn with three Tests to go.
"There's a long way to go but we've made a good start," captain Ponting told Australian television.
"We were forced to work hard after the first couple of days of this game. To be able to turn this game around and get into a winning position today has been an amazing effort."
England captain Andrew Flintoff said his team had paid a heavy price for a poor session.
"We've played a lot of good cricket in this Test match apart from an hour today when we let it slip, and it just shows it can cost you," he said.
"You have a bad hour and you are out of the Test match. That's exactly what's happened today."
The match had seemed destined to end in a draw after both teams piled on more than 500 runs in their first innings on a lifeless pitch until England suddenly wobbled on the final day.
England's first-innings total of 551 for six declared was the fourth highest score made by a losing team since Test cricket started in 1877.
Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne was the architect of England's second-innings collapse, capturing four for 49 off 32 overs. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee took two wickets each.
"This is a sensational win for us from a great team," Warne said. "To go 2-0 up was a great effort by all the guys. They all did their bit when they needed to."
The tourists resumed on 59 for one but allowed the Australians to go straight on the attack when they signalled their intention to defend.
Warne started to turn the ball sharply out of the footmarks and the seamers created doubts in the batsmen's minds by skidding the ball through at varying heights, but the demons in the pitch only played a minor role in England's collapse.
Andrew Strauss was unlucky to be given out for 34 to a catch by Hussey at short leg after the ball appeared to miss his bat and gloves, but Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Flintoff and Geraint Jones all contributed to their own downfall.
Bell was run out for 26 at the bowler's end after a horrible mix-up with Paul Collingwood and Pietersen was bowled around his legs by Warne for two after failing to make contact with an attempted sweep.
Flintoff gifted a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist when he chased a wide ball off Lee on two and Jones slashed the express paceman to Hayden at gully after batting 42 minutes for 10.
Collingwood, who made a double-century in England's first innings, was the only specialist batsmen prepared to knuckle down, holding the Australian bowlers at bay for more than three hours to make an unbeaten 22 when he finally ran out of partners.
The last three batsmen, Matthew Hoggard (4), Steve Harmison (8) and James Anderson (1), held out for more than 90 minutes but were helpless to prevent Australia's batsmen running down the total after they had warmed-up for the Ashes by winning the Champions Trophy in India.
England provided their travelling supporters with a brief glimmer of hope when Bell caught Langer at gully off Hoggard and Collingwood held a difficult skied catch at square-leg to get rid off Hayden with the total on 33.
Hussey and Ponting steadied the innings with an 83-run partnership to put Australia back in the driving seat before England picked up another two wickets.
Ponting, who made 196, 60 not out and 142 in his first three innings of the series, fell one short of a half-century when he drove Giles straight to Strauss at short extra-cover. Strauss then took a sharp catch at gully to remove Martyn.
Hussey continued his extraordinary introduction to Test cricket by reaching his third consecutive half-century of the series.