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Ruthless Australia win back Ashes

The hosts beat England by 206 runs in the third Test to regain the coveted urn in record time after taking a 3-0 lead in the series.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 17:14 IST

Australia beat England by 206 runs in the third Test to regain the Ashes in record time after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series on Monday.

Australia wrapped up another convincing victory with the second ball after lunch on the final day when Shane Warne bowled Monty Panesar to dismiss England for 350.

England beat Australia 2-1 at home last year to get their hands on the Ashes urn for the first time since 1989 but they gave it straight back after just 15 months, the shortest reign in the 124-year history of the contest.

"Losing the Ashes in 2005 was one of the lowlights of my career but right now is one of the more special times," Australia captain Ricky Ponting told reporters.

"We have been very good, there's no doubt about it.

"I think all the hard work has come through in our play, we've turned it round and played some unbelievably good cricket."

"It's a huge occasion for us and to win the Ashes the way we have has been unbelievable."

England captain Andrew Flintoff was generous in defeat.

"Australia played well in the three Test matches...Full credit to them," Flintoff said.

"We played well at times but they never let us take the initiative and always came back hard. It just hasn't come off for us."

Australia set England a target of 557 to win the match but the tourists' only real hope of keeping the series alive was to salvage a draw after losing the first Test in Brisbane by 277 runs and the second in Adelaide by six wickets.

Warne, playing in possibly his last Ashes series, picked up three of the five wickets that fell on the last day to lift his career total to 699. He heads to the fourth Test in Melbourne, his home ground, poised to become the first man to reach 700 Test scalps.

England started the final day hoping for a miracle to keep the series alive but lost their last five wickets for just 14 runs after Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen stalled Australia's ruthless pursuit of victory with a stubborn 75-run partnership.

Triggered Collapse

The pair pounded the Australian bowlers around the ground for the first hour before Warne triggered the collapse when he bowled Flintoff for 51.

The quick-thinking Ponting then ran out Geraint Jones for his second duck of the match when the England wicketkeeper failed to get his back foot behind the crease after surviving an lbw appeal off Warne.

Sajid Mahmood made four when he was trapped leg before wicket by seamer Stuart Clark and Warne dismissed Steve Harmison lbw to send the visitors to lunch on 349 for nine.

Pietersen, who survived a close run-out call on 46 that was referred to the video umpire, took a single off Warne's first delivery after lunch to reach 60 before the master leg spinner rattled Panesar's stumps to spark wild celebrations among the Australian players.

"It's bloody fantastic to be honest, this side deserved this," Warne said. "It hurt in 2005 and we knew we had to be ready."

"This side can do special things and we were ready right from day one. It's a pretty good feeling."

Australia batsman Mike Hussey was named man of the match following his innings of 74 not out and 103.

First Published: Dec 18, 2006 17:11 IST