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Aussies leave hosts paced out

cricket Updated: Aug 21, 2009 01:13 IST

Hindustan Times
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Australia rattled England with three quick wickets after tea to reduce hosts England to 261 for 6 on the first day of the fifth Ashes Test on Thursday.

Even Andrew Flintoff (7), playing his final Test, failed to impress with the bat. Ian Bell, who was unbeaten on 72 before tea wast the first to go without adding to his score.

Earlier, Bell held firm as England advanced to 180 for three at tea.

Bell was 72 not out after a second session where England lost both captain Andrew Strauss (55) and Paul Collingwood (24) in a match they had to win to regain the Ashes but one where Australia needed only a draw to retain them. Test debutant Jonathan Trott, a Warwickshire colleague of Bell's, was unbeaten on three after taking 12 balls to get off the mark.

England were 108 for one at lunch with Strauss, their best batsman in this series, 50 not out and Bell unbeaten on 41.

But in the third over after the interval England lost Strauss when the left-handed opener, dilligent in the morning session, limply hung his bat outside off-stump against Ben Hilfenhaus and was caught behind by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.

Strauss's stand of 102 in 142 balls with Bell had taken England from 12 for one, following the early loss of Alastair Cook for 10, to 114 for two

His departure saw the experienced Collingwood come in at number four, one higher than his usual position.

However, with regular No 4 Kevin Pietersen out of the series with an Achilles injury following the second Test and England fielding a newcomer in Trott, in for dropped No 3 Ravi Bopara, Collingwood's promotion made sense.

Collingwood, along with the rest of England's victorious 2005 Ashes side, received the MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal despite appearing only in the Oval Test.

Australia great Shane Warne wrote in his Times column on Thursday: "He owes England a match-winning hundred; perhaps then he'll deserve the MBE he collected for scoring seven and 10 four years ago."

But Collingwood, rarely assured on Thursday, made 24 before slicing paceman Peter Siddle to Michael Hussey in the gully for 24. England were now 176 for three. Trott avoided a golden duck on his debut by playing a solid forward defensive shot agaunst Siddle, a stroke cheered by England fans.

But it was Bell, much criticised for failing to make runs when England needed them most, who rather than Collingwood or Trott was best-placed to deliver the big innings around which a significant total could be built.

His leg-glanced four, his eighth boundary, off Ben Hilfenhaus saw Bell, promoted to No 3 in place of Bopara, to a 73-ball fifty.