Langer, Hayden shine but rain hits Aussies
The tourists, in reply to hosts' 373, took score to 277/2 on 3rd day of fifth Ashes Test.Updated: Sep 11, 2005 00:14 IST
Openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden scored centuries in the deciding fifth Ashes test but Australia's hopes of ramming home their advantage were hit by the weather on Saturday.
The world champions, replying to England's 373 and needing to win at The Oval to level the series at 2-2 and retain the Ashes, took their score from 112 without loss to 277 for two, still 96 behind. Repeated downpours followed by bad light reduced the day to just 45.4 of the scheduled 98 overs of play. Hayden was on 110 not out at the close with Damien Martyn on nine.
Langer and Hayden underlined their reputation as one of the great test opening partnerships with a 185-run stand, surpassing their previous best of 58 in the series. It was the sixth time the two had scored centuries in the same test, an unrivalled feat. For Hayden, it was a dramatic return to form. His position was under threat after failing to score a century in his last 30 test innings. Langer was the first to three figures but he fell immediately afterwards for 105 after being peppered by a volley of short balls from Steve Harmison.
Ricky Ponting then added 79 with Hayden before falling for 35, caught in the gully after being surprised by the bounce as Andrew Flintoff returned to the attack deep into the final session. Langer had reversed roles with the big-hitting Hayden by taking the initiative from the start of the innings. He took four hours to reach his 22nd test century, striking 11 fours and two sixes, both off left-arm spinner Ashley Giles.
Hayden salvaged his wretched tour by replacing aggression with caution for a 21st test century. It took him 76 balls more and around 50 minutes longer than his partner. The weather may have been against the Australians -- each of the three sessions was hit by rain or bad light -- but they had more than their share of luck out in the middle.
Swing bowler Matthew Hoggard, indeed, thought he had got Langer lbw with the first ball of the day but the batsman was given the benefit of the doubt. Hayden was also reprieved against the same bowler as the ball swung in the gloomy conditions.
England, without injured fast bowler Simon Jones, were left to rely on a four-man attack. Only Flintoff looked up to the task of shouldering the extra burden on a hard and true surface, beginning the day with three straight maidens and testing the batsmen throughout.
Australia's openers, meanwhile, kept their focus despite the frustrating interruptions. Langer's end was dramatic. Harmison peppered him with an over of short deliveries, two of which were called wides and two of which disappeared to the boundary, before the left-hander, having just passed 7,000 test runs, chopped on.
Hayden came out of his shell to bring up his century with a fine straight drive on the up off Flintoff, the bowler joining in the applause. He and Ponting, however, could have both fallen shortly before to Giles. Hayden edged between wicketkeeper and first slip and two balls later Ponting survived a big appeal for a catch off bat and pad to silly mid-off. Martyn replaced Ponting and escaped another confident England appeal, for caught behind off Flintoff.
Australia have won the last eight series. England last won the Ashes in 1986-7.
England 1st Innings: 373
Australia 1st Innings
Overnight (112 without loss)
Justin Langer b Harmison 105
Matthew Hayden not out 110
Ricky Ponting c Strauss b Flintoff 35
Damien Martyn not out 9
Extras: (4b, 6lb, 2w, 6nb) 18
TOTAL: (for 2 wickets) 277
Overs: 78.4. Time: 346 minutes.
Bowling: Steve Harmison 20-2-75-1 (2w, 2nb), Matthew Hoggard 14-1-53-0 (1nb), Andrew Flintoff 19.4-7-48-1 (3nb), Ashley Giles 21-0-74-0, Paul Collingwood 4-0-17-0.
Umpires: Billy Bowden, New Zealand, and Rudi Koertzen, South Africa.
TV Umpire: Jeremy Lloyds.
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka
First Published: Sep 11, 2005 00:14 IST