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England wins fourth test, takes 2-1 lead

England won the fourth test by three wickets on Sunday, taking a 2-1 series lead and edging closer to ending Australia's 16-year ownership of the Ashes.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2005 04:21 IST
John Pye (Associated Press)
John Pye (Associated Press)

England won the fourth test by three wickets on Sunday, taking a 2-1 series lead and edging closer to ending Australia's 16-year ownership of the Ashes.

If England doesn't lose the fifth test starting September 8 at The Oval, it will reclaim the Ashes and finish Australia's sequence of eight series wins stretching back to 1989.

Ashley Giles hit the winning runs off Shane Warne to midwicket after a tension-filled finish at Trent Bridge. He finished unbeaten on seven in an unbeaten 13-run partnership with Matthew Hoggard (8). Michael Vaughan's unchanged XI has dominated this series since losing the opening match at Lord's by 239 runs. England rallied for a two-run win at Edgbaston - the narrowest margin ever in an Ashes contest - and went within a wicket of winning again at Old Trafford. "It's great to be 2-1 up with one to play, and I'm sure that will be another epic," Vaughan said.

Typically in this series, the result wasn't certain until the very end. "We got close today, but to be honest, closer than we should have been," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said. "We haven't been in this position before ... We have to turn it around very quickly if we want to keep these Ashes."

Warne took 3-7 in 29 balls as England slipped to 57-4 chasing 129 for victory. Warne took 4-33 in the second innings. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff combined in a 46-run stand before Brett Lee dismissed them both inside 11 balls and England slumped to 111 for six. Warne struck again in his 12th over when Geraint Jones miscued to Michael Kasprowicz, the seventh English wicket falling with 13 runs still needed to win. Warne finished with 4-31 and Lee took 3-51.

"Once we got to four, we knew we were home. Up until then, they could have gone, bang, bang, bang and it would have been anyone's," Vaughan said. "We can be proud of what we've done." England had raced to 32 without loss before Warne struck with the first balls of his first and second overs.

The champion legspinner had Marcus Trescothick (27) caught at short leg in the sixth over and skipper Vaughan (0) caught at slip in the eighth. England moved from 36-2 to 57 before losing two wickets in three balls. Warne struck again, when Andrew Strauss (23) glanced to Michael Clarke at leg slip. The decision was made by TV umpire Mark Benson after on-field umpires Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar could not determine if Clarke got his fingers under the ball. Ian Bell (3) hooked erratically at Lee in the next over and guided a catch to Kasprowicz at backward square.

Flintoff (26) and Pietersen (23) were coasting when Lee struck with the first ball of a new spell to swing the momentum again. Coming into this match, Australia had been unbeaten at Trent Bridge since 1977 and had clinched the last two Ashes series in England at the Nottingham ground. But England held the ascendancy from the time Vaughan won the toss and elected to bat.

Flintoff posted his maiden Ashes hundred and shared a 177-run stand with Geraint Jones as England amassed 477 in the first innings. Matthew Hoggard snared three top-order wickets and Simon Jones took 5-44 to dismiss Australia for 218, allowing Vaughan to become the first English captain since Mike Gatting in November 1986 to enforce a follow-on in an Ashes test.

Hoggard chipped in again with valuable wickets before and after lunch on Sunday and Steve Harmison claimed the last three wickets at Australia was out for 387 in its second innings, leaving England 41 overs on the fourth day to get the required runs. Hoggard had Clarke (56) caught behind two overs before lunch to end a stubborn 100-run, fifth-wicket stand that boosted Australia to 261-5 and ensured England would have to bat a second time. Harmison then removed Simon Katich (59), who had anchored the innings for almost 4 1/2 hours, and picked off the last two wickets to return 3-93.

Katich faced 183 balls before umpire Dar deemed that he was out lbw to a Harmison ball that pitched outside the line of leg stump and hit him high on the pad. As well as tormenting the England batsmen, Warne frustrated the bowlers by scoring 45 runs in 41 balls in his latest batting cameo before he was stumped off Giles' bowling.

Ponting faced a disciplinary hearing with match referee Ranjan Madugalle later on Sunday to explain his outburst after he was run out by substitute fielder Gary Pratt late the previous evening.

First Published: Aug 29, 2005 04:21 IST