Australia look to keep vanquished England on the canvas

Published: Monday, November 27, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Brisbane:Australia has its foot on England's throat after a 277-run hammering in the Ashes opener here and skipper Ricky Ponting wants it kept firmly there for the next game in Adelaide.

Australia, hellbent on winning back the urn it relinquished last year after 16 years' ownership, needed just 90 minutes on the final morning to snare the five remaining wickets to mop up a comprehensive victory in the first of the five-Test series.

The Australians will take the momentum to Adelaide Oval for Friday's second game as the tourists look for answers to pressing selection issues to revive their Ashes defence.

There are parallels to the last series when Australia swept to an emphatic 239-win in the first Test at Lord's only to lose the series 2-1. But man-of-the-match Ponting, following his first innings 196, is determined to avoid any such repeat.

"It's up to us really to keep them under pressure," Ponting said. "They'll be able to bounce back if we allow them to, which is probably what happened last time around (at Lord's in 2005).

"If we play the same way as we did in this game, good hard tough Test match cricket, then England should find it hard to dominate the next game.

"We'll just have to have a good look at what we've done well in this game and make sure we continue it on in the series. You can't afford to take the foot off the accelerator whatsoever."

So conclusive was Australia's victory at the Gabba that complacency might be the home team's biggest danger in Adelaide if England cannot regroup in time.

"We can't mope around, we can't sit around thinking too much, we've got to learn from it obviously. There's still four games to go," England captain Andrew Flintoff said.

"We've been in this position before, 1-0 down in an Ashes series with four to play, and we've got to take the positives out of this game into Adelaide."

Australia totally dominated the first three days, but England gained some encouragement from a rousing 153-run fourth-wicket stand between Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen over two and a half hours that rattled the Australian attack.

"Over the past 24 hours we salvaged something from the game," Flintoff said. "The way Pietersen and Collingwood played yesterday, that partnership showed what good players they are and took a bit of pride from the game for us."

But it was all a damp squid on Monday as England, needing to show application to bat out the entire day for a draw, unravelled in just 90 minutes, with impressive medium-pacer Stuart Clark finishing with 4-72 off 24.1 overs.

England's hopes nosedived in the day's opening over when Pietersen was out on the fourth ball to Brett Lee.

Pietersen went the same way as Collingwood (96) by getting out within sight of a century.

Lee, with the second new ball, had Pietersen out to a poor shot to Damien Martyn at short mid-wicket, with no addition to his overnight 92 scored in 228 minutes with 14 boundaries.

With him went the last remaining recognised batsman and the wickets steadily tumbled from there.

Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, selected ahead of Chris Read primarily for his batting, chopped a Glenn McGrath ball on to his stumps for 33.

Ashley Giles, also chosen ahead of Monty Panesar for his batting ability, was out at first-hour drinks when he edged Clark to Warne at first slip for 23 and Matthew Hoggard also edged Clark to Warne for eight.

It was ironic that Harmison, who began the Test with a shocking wide, was the last man out, hooking to McGrath off Clark for 13.

Leg-spinner Warne, who did not take a wicket on the final day, closed with 4-124 off 34 overs. He now has 689 career Test wickets.

Ponting and McGrath took the field on the final day after treatment for injuries which kept them out of action during Sunday's play.

Ponting strained his upper back while turning for a run during his 24 minutes of batting early Sunday, while McGrath required a pain-killing injection to his left heel.

Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris believes the pair will overcome their problems in time to play in Adelaide.

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