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Australia holds advantage against England

Australia held the advantage in the first Ashes Test against England at the close of day three on Friday. The tourists reached 479-5 when bad light stopped play to lead England by 44 runs. SCORECARD

cricket Updated: Jul 11, 2009 00:42 IST

Australia held the advantage in the first Ashes Test against England at the close of day three Friday despite Michael Clarke missing the opportunity to become the third centurion of the innings.

The tourists reached 479-5 when bad light stopped play to lead England by 44 runs. Vice-captain Clarke was dismissed for 83 in a six-over period following a two-hour rain delay after tea when the teams played under floodlights for the first time in a home England test.

Marcus North, who added 143 for the fifth wicket with Clarke, was unbeaten on 54 with Brad Haddin on four. Clarke edged a Stuart Broad bouncer to wicketkeeper Matt Prior after attempting a hook shot. Australia, resuming the day on 249-1 and seeking to retain the Ashes they won back in 2006-07, lost three wickets in the morning session as Simon Katich was out for 122, Ricky Ponting for 150 and Mike Hussey made three.

In the morning, Ponting raised the 200 stand with Katich by driving a short Monty Panesar delivery off the back foot to the extra cover boundary. It was one of his 14 fours, while he also hooked Andrew Flintoff for six off a top-edge.

The new ball altered the landscape as Anderson and Flintoff bowled with aggression, though Flintoff's first ball of the day was a wide, taken by Prior in front of second slip.

Flintoff soon discovered his accuracy and a rare short ball struck Katich on his back when he turned away from a bouncer. The breakthrough came in the fifth over of the new ball. Katich tried to flick a full length ball from Anderson off his legs, missed the shot and was lbw in front of middle stump.

Hussey edged Anderson to Prior for three after wafting at a pitched-up ball outside off stump.

Ponting's dismissal then made the score 331-4. Ponting was out three balls after reaching his 150 when he tried to cut a spinning, short ball from Panesar and got a bottom edge on to his stumps. It was the 13th time Ponting had passed 150 in his test career. He now only requires 65 runs to go past Allan Border's tally of 11,174 runs to become the third-highest scoring batsman in test history and the most prolific Australian.

Clarke kept the pressure on, hitting Panesar for six and then a four in a later over that registered Australia's 400. He reached his fifty with the first of two consecutive boundaries off Graeme Swann. North, who warmed up for the test with an unbeaten 191 last week, brought up the 100 partnership with a single.

When England turned to its most potent and reliable bowler, Flintoff, he conceded as many as 10 runs off his first over back. A boundary with the last ball of that over gave Australia the lead, going past England's 435.

SCORECARD