Warne puts Oz on course for series sweep

At stumps on day 3 of the fifth Test, England is reeling at 114 for five with Pietersen on 29 and night watchman Monty Panesar on zero.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2007 13:42 IST

Kevin Pietersen remains the only recognised batsmen standing between Australia and an historic 5-0 Ashes sweep after another vintage Shane Warne performance against England.

Warne top scored with 71 in Australia's first innings 393 in his farewell Test, helping the hosts to a 102-run first-innings lead, then dismissed England captain Andrew Flintoff after Brett Lee and Stuart Clark picked off batsmen Nos. 1-4.

At stumps on day three of the fifth Test, England was reeling at 114 for five with Pietersen on 29 and night watchman Monty Panesar on zero.

The English had a slender 12-run lead with only tailend batsmen to come and two days to play.

Flintoff, whose 89 in England's first innings 291 was his highest score in 15 Tests, was out 10 balls before stumps on Thursday, stumped by Adam Gilchrist on the decision of a TV umpire.

He had gone to the crease with England at 98 for four, still needing four runs to make Australia bat again, and one of the tourists last chances of avoiding the first sweep of a five-test Ashes series in 86 years.

Lee did the early damage, dismissing Alastair Cook (4) with the total at five and felling Andrew Strauss with a ball that smashed into the side of his helmet in the same over.

He also remove Ian Bell (28), needlessly slashing outside off stump, to make the total 64 for three.

Stuart Clark struck in between Lee's wickets, trapping Strauss lbw for 24, and then having Paul Collingwood (17) caught by Matthew Hayden, diving in the gully.

Warne clouted nine boundaries and two sixes in a typically attacking tailend dig.

Australia resumed on the third day at 188 for four and added 137 in the morning session for the loss of three wickets. Warne went in at No. 8 with Australia at 260 for six, still 31 runs behind.

He shared a 58-run seventh-wicket partnership with Gilchrist (62) and a 68-run ninth-wicket partnership with Clark (35) before he advanced down the wicket trying to hit Monty Panesar out of the ground again and was stumped.

Warne, who has a highest Test score of 99, abandoned hope of reaching his maiden Test hundred in his 145th and last match when Clark skied Sajid Mahmood to Pietersen at extra cover. He was out next over, leaving fellow Test retiree Glenn McGrath unbeaten on 0.

Two of cricket's three most prolific Test bowlers spent only seven minutes together at the batting crease. Warne was content with his 12th Test half century and McGrath avoided another duck - with 35 ducks, he is second on the all-time list.

Gilchrist ensured Australia took a first-innings lead before being given out caught behind for 62 to a ball he didn't touch. He shared a 70-run sixth-wicket stand with Andrew Symonds (48) before combining with Warne to keep the runs flowing from the Australian middle order.

Gilchrist's dismissal gave James Anderson his third wicket of the innings- more than he had in the rest of the series. Anderson, replacing injured paceman Matthew Hoggard, returned 3-98 from 26 overs, while Steve Harmison had 2-80 and Panesar returned 2-90 from 19.3 overs.

Panesar bowled Symonds to bring Warne to the crease. And Warne, who along with McGrath and opener Justin Langer is retiring from Test cricket after the Ashes, got off the mark with a swept boundary and a massive pull over mid-wicket for six.

He survived a caught behind decision against Panesar on the last ball of that over when the ball appeared to brush Warne's glove on the way through to the 'keeper.

Gilchrist was less fortunate. He chased a wide delivery from Anderson, his bat hit the pitch and Chris Read took the ball. England appealed and umpire Billy Bowden took his time before giving Gilchrist out, the decision greeted with a loud and sustained boos from the crowd.

First Published: Jan 04, 2007 11:38 IST