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Hussey stands firm to keep Aussies afloat

Australia's top scorer Mike Hussey feels the first Ashes Test is there to be won by either team, after his unbeaten 81 today got the hosts out of trouble on day two and poised to take a first-innings lead.

cricket Updated: Nov 27, 2010 00:35 IST

Australia's top scorer Mike Hussey feels the first Ashes Test is there to be won by either team, after his unbeaten 81 today got the hosts out of trouble on day two and poised to take a first-innings lead.

Hussey and Brad Haddin combined for an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 77 to put Australia on 220-5 at stumps, chasing England's total of 260.

The pair combined with Australia in trouble at 143-5, and while the hosts had wrested back a marginal ascendancy, Hussey felt the game remained in the balance.

"The game is 50-50 at the moment," Hussey said. "We'd love to be two or three down and the same as them scorewise but the two teams are very tight.

"Its going to ebb and flow throughout the Test match. We are very close and it could well come down to pivotal moments in the game. One ball or one diving catch."

Australia began today on 25-0 and extended the opening partnership to 78 before James Anderson dismissed Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting either side of lunch.

Steven Finn, on his Ashes debut, followed that up by snaring Simon Katich (50) and Michael Clarke (9) before Marcus North (1) fell to Graeme Swann, leaving Australia still 117 adrift of England's first innings total with the top order already removed.

Hussey belied the pressure of intense scrutiny upon his position in the team, combining with Haddin to bat Australia out of trouble with some assured strokeplay before bad light then rain cut the day's play about an hour short.

England will take the new ball when play begins on day three half an hour early to make up for time lost today. Hussey almost went first ball, nicking a Finn delivery just short of Swann at second slip.

Immediately he took advantage of that reprieve with the first of a series of aggressive pull shots for boundaries and the Test's first six, hitting Swann over long on.

"Nothing's changed at all, I just tried to stick with what works for me," Hussey said.