London, Aug 22: Shane Watson struck a fine century to power Australia to a commanding position on the first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test against England here at The Oval on Wednesday (August 21).
Watson hit 176 (247 balls, 25x4, 1x6) as the visitors ended the day at 307/4 in 90 overs. Steve Smith was unbeaten on 66 with nightwatchman Peter Siddle on 18 at stumps.
England, who have already won the series with 3-0 advantage, handed debuts to Simon Kerrigan and Chris Woakes. The duo was put under pressure by the Australian batsmen.
Left-arm spinner Kerrigan was smashed for 53 runs in eight overs while medium pace bowler Woakes conceded 52 in 15 overs (5 maidens).
Watson hit Kerrigan for 28 runs in his first two overs on debut. After an aggressive start, Watson, batting at number three, was 80 not out at lunch.
It was tough times in the nineties for Watson as he spent 41 minutes there. He raised his third Test hundred by driving James Anderson for three runs. On 104, he had a reprieve when skipper Alastair Cook spilled an easy catch at slip off Anderson.
Watson and Smith shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 145 which put Australia on road to domination. Captain Michael Clarke failed with the bat, scoring just 7 while opener David Warner too did not last long as he was out for 6 runs.
Anderson took two wickets while Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann had one apiece. Broad dismissed Watson in the 88th over of the day with a bouncer.
Anderson moved to second highest wicket-taker for England in Tests when he went past Bob Willis with his 326th wicket, getting Clarke bowled. The leader is Ian Botham with 383 wickets.
Earlier, Broad had struck Watson, when on 91, on the head with short ball. "The bump is okay. I've got a bit of a cork in my neck, more than anything," Watson said at the end of day's play referring to the knock which he took on the side of his head.
"It certainly got me thinking apart from the nervous nineties and trying to get through that. It was thinking more about trying to get my neck around so my eyes could see the ball. It probably worked out well in the end.
"It's a stiff neck more than anything now. It was very lucky, it got me in a good spot, it got me in the muscle, so it's more just a cork."
On his big hundred, he said: "Of course it's a big relief to be able to get a hundred, there's no doubt about that."
"But for me the most important thing has been being able to bat for a long period of time," he added.
"I've worked very hard, and had some very good people helping me out over the last six weeks to be able to get myself into a place where I can give myself a chance to be able to bat for a long period like that.
"It was a really good wicket, for us to be able to win the toss on that wicket and bat," the right-hander said.