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Collingwood, Pietersen lead English resistance

Published: Sunday, November 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Brisbane:Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen were leading the resistance as England battled to save the first Ashes cricket Test against Australia at the Gabba here.

The tourists were recovering after the loss of three wickets to enjoy their best period in what has been a lopsided opening Test of the five-match Ashes series.

The pair put on an unbroken 59-run stand for the fourth wicket as Australia's four-man bowling attack strived for another breakthrough on Sunday.

England, facing a monumental 648 runs to win the Test, were 150 for three at tea on the fourth day with Collingwood on 56 with Pietersen not out 25.

Collingwood's fourth Test 50 and the first against Australia helped England through the afternoon session as they bid to avoid defeat by batting until the end of the match Monday.

Ricky Ponting declared Australia's second innings at 202 for one, 23 minutes into the fourth day's play on Sunday.

Vice-captain Andrew Strauss, the most experienced of England's batsmen on tour, played his second ill-judged shot of the Test when he fell for an Australian trap set up for the hook before lunch.

Strauss obliged and played seamer Stuart Clark straight to fielding substitute Ryan Broad at fine leg to be out for 11 to expose England's top-order to Australia's experienced bowling attack.

Ian Bell, the top scorer in the England's first innings with 50, lasted just four balls before leg-spinner Shane Warne trapped him leg before wicket for a duck.

Warne, the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, followed up after lunch to remove Alastair Cook for 43 after the opener played forward to a leg-break and was caught at short-leg by Mike Hussey.

That increased Warne's career total to 687.

Ponting declared the second innings closed immediately after opening batsman Justin Langer completed his century to be 100 not out, with the skipper unbeaten on 60.

It was 36-year-old Langer's 23rd Test century and in doing so he became the fifth all-time leading Australian scorer in Tests with 7,575 runs at 46.18 in his 101st Test match.

Langer batted for 199 minutes with 10 fours and celebrated enthusiastically after completing his ton by scampering through for a single off Steve Harmison.

Ponting was treated for a back problem during his innings by the team phsyiotherapist and did not re-appear during England's innings.

England have a minimum of 172 overs to save the Test, with 36 overs remaining on the fourth day and a further 90 overs on the final day Monday.

The odds are overwhelmingly stacked against the embattled tourists with the record Test run chase in the fourth innings of a match the West Indies' 418 for 7 against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

England's task is 230 runs beyond that record and the cracks were widening on the wearing Gabba pitch.

England's highest successful run chase in an Ashes Test was 332 for 7 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1928.

AFP

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