Aussie fightback leaves Ashes opener on knife edge



Aussie fightback leaves Ashes opener on knife edgeNottingham: The first Ashes Test was set for a thrilling climax as Australia fought back to within sight of a stunning victory over arch-rivals England at Trent Bridge here today.
Australia, at lunch on the fifth and final day, were 291 for nine, needing just 20 more runs to reach their victory target of 311.

When Australia lost their ninth wicket, they were 80 runs adrift and all but out of the match.
But a last-wicket stand so far worth 60 between Brad Haddin (69 not out) and James Pattinson (22 not out) rattled England and the bulk of a 17,000 capacity sun-drenched crowd.

All was going well for the Ashes-holders when a sensational new ball saw James Anderson take three wickets for six runs as Ashton Agar (14), Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc (one) and

Peter Siddle (11) were all caught by England captain Alastair Cook at first slip.
In their first innings, Australia saw Phil Hughes (81 not out) and Agar add 163 -- a Test record partnership for the 10th wicket.

They didn`t need as many now and wicketkeeper Haddin and last man Pattinson set about trying to secure a stunning win.

Anderson, after bowling 13 consecutive overs Sunday for a return of three for 29 with six maidens, was replaced by fast bowler Steven Finn.

And when Pattinson swept off-spinner Graeme Swann for six, Australia needed just 31 more runs for victory.

Jonny Bairstow then had a chance to run out Haddin but his throw from cover-point missed the stumps.

Haddin, with 26 needed to win, was dropped on 64 by a diving Finn, running round in the deep, off Swann.

Australia resumed on 174 for six still needing a futher 137 runs to win after they lost three wickets for three runs late into the play yesterday.

But the fact teenage debutant Agar, who in Australia`s first innings made 98, the highest score by a Test No 11, was still there was a warning to England not to under-estimate Australia`s tail.

Haddin, 11 not out overnight, continued to mix aggression with defence, took Australia to 200 when he cover-drove Anderson for four.

Anderson eventually had had 19-year-old left-hander Agar edging to Cook to end a 43-run partnership.

And Australia`s 207 for seven soon became 211 for eight when Starc, who has a Test-best score of 99, managed just a single before he too fell to the Anderson-Cook combination.

The pair almost had their third wicket when Siddle on 10 got an edge only for Cook to drop the chance.

However, Siddle added just one more run to his total before he edged a full-blooded drive off Anderson and Cook, going high to his right, held a sensational catch.

England had put themselves into a strong position thanks to a seventh-wicket second innings stand of 138 between Ian Bell (109) and Stuart Broad (65).

But Broad was controversially given not out on 37 despite edging the ball to slip -- one of several contentious umpiring calls in this enthralling match.

AFP