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Gilchrist puts Australia in sight of Ashes

india Updated: Dec 17, 2006 00:30 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Highlight Story

Adam Gilchrist smashed the second fastest century in test history to leave Australia poised to regain the Ashes from England in record time after the third day of the third test on Saturday.

Gilchrist slammed 12 fours and four sixes to reach his hundred off just 57 balls. He finished unbeaten on 102 as the world champions amassed a daunting total of 527 for five declared.

Set 557 for victory to keep the series alive, England's hopes of a miracle plummeted when opener Andrew Strauss departed for a fourth-ball duck before they limped to the close on 19 for one.

"We've got nine wickets to get in this game. We're in a good position," Gilchrist told a news conference.

"It's very exciting. We've fought hard. We've endured what England have thrown up to us.

"We feel pretty good but (winning the Ashes) is certainly something that hasn't been spoken about yet.

Michael Clarke (135 not out) and Mike Hussey (103) also made hundreds after Matthew Hayden (92) and Ricky Ponting (75) narrowly missed out as Australia's batsmen went on the rampage against a dispirited England bowling attack.

England beat Australia 2-1 in an epic series at home last year to win the Ashes for the first time in 16 years but face the prospect of handing them back after just 15 months - the shortest reign since the Ashes were first contested in 1882.

BAD NEWS

"We've been through this before and the guys have come back," a defiant England coach Duncan Fletcher said.

"Numerous occasions they've bounced back and they've just got to make sure they bat tomorrow with a positive frame of mind and realize there's still quite a lot of cricket to be played."

There was more bad news for the tourists when Fletcher revealed spinner Ashley Giles, who was dropped for the match, had left the tour to return home because his wife Stine was potentially seriously ill.

"The thoughts of all the players and management are with Ashley and Stine at such a difficult time," Fletcher said.

"There is no chance of Ashley coming back to join us at this stage."

Gilchrist set a series of records as he chalked up his 17th test hundred in spectacular fashion despite arriving at the crease after the tea break.

The Australian wicketkeeper equalled Graham Thorpe's record for the fastest Ashes 50 when he reached the milestone off just 40 balls.

He also set a record for the most runs off a single six-ball Ashes over when he plundered 24 off spinner Monty Panesar and brought up his hundred in just one more ball than Viv Richard's world record of 56, set against England at St. Johns in 1985-86.

Gilchrist's display overshadowed another fine performance by Clarke and Hussey.

Clarke's 135 came off just 164 balls and featured 17 fours and a six and Hussey became the first Australian to score five successive half-centuries in an Ashes series before completing his first ton of the series.

England made a bright start when they picked up the prized wickets of Ponting and Hayden before lunch but missed their chance to restrict Australia to a smaller total with poor fielding.

The left-handed Hussey survived a chance on 48 when he skied a hook off Steve Harmison that fell between three English fielders and he had another let-off on 78 when he was dropped in the slips by Strauss.

England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones also missed a stumping off Clarke before the Australian had reached double-figures on a scorching hot day that left both teams exhausted.

"What we kept thinking was that if it's hot for us it's got to be twice as hot for them," Hussey said.

"So hopefully it'll take its toll tomorrow and they'll still be a little bit tired."

Score card

Australia 1st Innings 244
England 1st Innings 215

Australia 2nd Innings
Langer b Hoggard  0
Hayden c C’wood b Panesar  92
Ponting c Jones b Harmison  75
Hussey c Jones b Panesar  103
Clarke not out  135
Symonds c C’wood b Panesar  2
Gilchrist not out  102
Extras (lb-15 w-2 nb-1)  18
Total (for five wickets decl)  527
Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-144, 3-206, 4-357, 5-365
Bowling: Hoggard 20-4-85-1, Flintoff 19-2-76-0, Harmison 24-3-116-1, Panesar 34-3-145-3, Mahmood 10-0-59-0, Pietersen 5-1-31-0
England 2nd innings
Strauss lbw b Lee  0
Cook not out  7
Bell not out  9
Extras (lb-1 nb-2)  3
Total (for one wicket, six overs)  19
Fall of wkts: 1-0
Bowling: Lee 3-1-5-1, McGrath 3-0-13-0

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