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England win Ashes 2-1

The Ashes have returned to England after the home team broke Australia's 18-year hold on one of the most coveted trophies in world sport.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2005 02:17 IST

Kevin Pietersen defied his close friend Shane Warne to score an outrageous maiden test century and seal England's first Ashes triumph for almost two decades on Monday.

Pietersen broke Australian hearts as he brushed off three dropped catches to score 158 and ensure a draw on the last day of the weather-affected fifth and final test at the Oval.

That gave the home team a 2-1 series win and unleashed jubilant scenes at the Oval, with the 23,000 capacity crowd staying behind to cheer their players around the venue.

Six runs ahead after the first innings and resuming their second on 34 for one, England recovered from a top-order collapse to bat almost the entire day before being dismissed for 335.

The world champions were left to face less than an over from Steve Harmison before accepting an offer of bad light as well as their historic defeat.

Scoreboard
England IInd Innings (overnight 34 for 1)
Trescothick lbw Warne33
Andrew Strauss c Katich b Warne1
MP Vaughan c Gilchrist b McGrath45
Ian Bell c Warne b McGrathc Warn0
K Pietersen b McGrath158
A Flintoff c and b Warne8
lCollingwood c Ponting b Warne10
G.Jones b Tait1
A.Giles lbw b Warne59
M.Hoggard not out

4
S.Harmison c Hayden b Warne0
Extras: (b-4, w-7, nb-5) 16
Total: (all out in 91.3 overs) 335
Fall of Wickets: 1-2, 2-67, 3-67, 4-109, 5-126, 6-186, 7-199, 8-308, 9-335
Bowling: Glenn McGrath 26-3-85-3, Brett Lee 20-4-88-0, Shane Warne 38.
Australia IInd Innings
J.Langer not out0
M.Hayden not out0
Extras: (lb4) 4
Total: (0 wkts, 0.4 overs, 3 mins) 4
Still to bat: R Ponting, D Martyn, M Clarke, S Katich, A Gilchrist, S Warne, B Lee, G McGrath, S Tait
Bowling:Harmison 0.4-0-0-0;

The South Africa-born Pietersen was eighth man out, bowled by Glenn McGrath, but by then he had saved the game.He hit seven sixes and 15 fours, faced 187 balls and batted for four and three-quarter hours, helping to put on 60 for the sixth wicket with Paul Collingwood and 109 for the eighth with Ashley Giles who made 59.

Warne produced a mammoth performance to take six wickets for 124 to go with his six in the first innings, but did not get enough support.

England, who lost the opening test at Lord's by 229 runs, last won the Ashes in 1986-87. They have now won their last six test series. Australia had won a record eight Ashes series in a row before Monday.


EVENING SHADOWS

When Pietersen was finally dismissed, Warne ran over to him to shake his hand before he headed for the pavilion in the evening shadows.

Michael Vaughan's side seemed to be on the brink of defeat at lunch as the collective genius of Warne and McGrath reduced them to 127 for five. Pietersen, however, in his first test series for his adopted country, mixed his unlikely good fortune with extraordinary leg-side shot-making.

"He's got a little bit of genius in him," Vaughan said. "To score 158 on a pressure day, it doesn't get better than that." For Warne, Pietersen's friend and Hampshire team mate who dropped the easiest chance he offered when on 15, there were few consolations, just new records.

In his last test in England and one day short of his 36th birthday, the leg spinner completed 40 wickets for the series and 172 in all against his favourite opponents, surpassing the previous Australian record of 167 by Dennis Lillee.

For many commentators, the 2005 Ashes series will go down as the greatest of all time after five matches packed with drama between the world's two best sides. The fifth test, despite losing large chunks to the September weather, provided a fitting climax with Australia still hoping of snatching a drawn series.

England had begun confidently as early clouds made way for sunshine. Vaughan's first five scoring shots were all fours but, once Warne joined McGrath in the attack, the mood changed.


MCGRATH DOUBLE

It was McGrath, however, who broke through.

Vaughan, on 45, edged and Adam Gilchrist dived full-length for a fine one-handed catch. One ball later it was 67 for two, Ian Bell completing a pair as he failed to get forward and Warne gleefully pocketed the catch at first slip.

Next over Pietersen, yet to score, feathered a chance which brushed Gilchrist's fingertips and evaded Matthew Hayden at slip. On 15, the 25-year-old then edged the bristling Lee to Warne. It was the pivotal moment and perhaps Warne realised it as the ball flew to him at throat height. He grabbed, grabbed again and grassed the chance.

Ponting, though, refused to point fingers.


BEST SLIPPERS

"The chances were there and we didn't take them," he said, adding of Warne's miss: "That happens. That's part of the game. He's one of the best slippers in the game. It's a little mistake and it's been capitalised on."

Pietersen barely acknowledged the moment and swept two flat, fizzing sixes in one over from the spinner. Back came Warne, jagging a ball back out of the rough and trapping Marcus Trescothick lbw for 33, making it 109 for four. Andrew Flintoff soon followed, caught and bowled by Warne for eight.

Pietersen, though, forged on after lunch. He hooked Lee's fourth ball for six, then added a six and two fours off consecutive deliveries. The second pull, fizzing to fine leg, was dropped one-handed by a sprawling Shaun Tait.

Collingwood played a crucial part without convincing, falling to Warne for 10 after a 70-minute stay, and Tait plucked out Geraint Jones's off stump.

England were still not safe at tea, on 221 for seven, with 49 overs left. The drama of the final session, however, was soon deflated by Pietersen's broad bat and Giles's cameo, his best score in tests.

Warne, one of the game's greats and who became the first man to pass 600 test wickets earlier in the series, mopped up the England tail but ended the match wondering what might have been.

First Published: Sep 13, 2005 00:26 IST