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England face battle to save Ashes opener

cricket Updated: Nov 27, 2010 14:35 IST

AFP
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England were battling to avoid going one down in the Ashes series after centuries from Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin gave Australia a massive innings lead in the first Test on Saturday.

Hussey registered his highest Test score of 195 and Haddin contributed 136 in a Gabba record stand of 307 runs to propel Australia to a 221-run first innings lead on the third day.

England, who have not won a Brisbane Test since Mike Gatting's team prevailed by seven wickets in 1986, reached the close at 19 without loss with Andrew Strauss on 11 and Alastair Cook six.

Australia kept England toiling in the field for 158.4 overs and almost 12 hours before they got their second turn batting, but Hussey said the job was not done yet.

"It's definitely a big challenge for our team," Hussey said. "We've been in some fantastic positions in the last year or so and we have to try and finish the job.

"Test cricket is not easy. We know we will have to work hard for it, but it will be very special if we can."

The leviathan sixth-wicket partnership ended 20 minutes after tea when Haddin was snapped up by Paul Collingwood at first slip off spinner Graeme Swann for 136.

The six-and-a-half hour stand trumped the previous Gabba record partnership of 276 between Don Bradman and Lindsay Hassett for the third wicket against England in 1946-47.

It also ranked as the 12th highest stand in Ashes Tests and the fifth best in Australia.

Hussey surpassed his previous highest Test score of 182 against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2006, more than justifying the selectors' faith as he registered his 12th Test century.

The knock ended a lean run since his last hundred (134 no) against Pakistan in Sydney last January, 14 Test innings ago.

The 35-year-old was finally out when he pulled Steven Finn to Cook at deep square leg, ending an eight-hour 330-ball vigil which included 26 fours and a six.

Haddin's third Test century, his second against England, came in 398 minutes with 16 fours and one six and he brought up his ton with a flourish, slamming Swann over his head for six.

It was deflating day for England, who began promisingly and had little luck in the extended morning session but fell away under the onslaught from the Australian pair.

James Anderson put Haddin down on 113 in Stuart Broad's 29th over after the wicketkeeper had given an earlier chance on 63, when Cook could not take a running catch at long-off from Collingwood's bowling.

The tourists' fielding became ragged and there were several fumbles as Hussey and Haddin continued to pick runs off their bowlers.

The runs began flowing after an excruciating morning for the batsmen in which Hussey had an lbw dismissal against him overruled by referral as England made use of the second new ball.

Hussey referred to the third umpire after he was given out lbw on 82 to Anderson in the third over of the second new ball.

Replays showed the delivery was pitching just outside leg-stump and umpire Aleem Dar's decision was overruled.

Hussey had another "life" on 85 when an Anderson delivery appeared to hit his pads in front, but England had no referrals left to challenge, much to skipper Strauss's disappointment.

Finn, the giant 21-year-old Middlesex paceman, cleaned up the Australian tail to finish with Test best figures of 6-125 off 33.4 overs.

Finn bowled Mitchell Johnson for a duck, had Peter Siddle caught by Swann for six and debutant Xavier Doherty caught in the deep for 16.

"We have to push forward and obviously if those decisions had gone our way then we would be in a different position now," Finn said.

"It's a nice batting track and it's something we're going to dig our heels in and take each hour by hour tomorrow and hopefully put partnerships on the board.

"Obviously to concede such a big first innings deficit is not good, but we think we kept the pressure on and we're confident of getting ourselves out of tricky situations and we're backing ourselves to do that."