Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sydney test warms up nicely

The closest test of the series so far looks to be developing at Sydney after England and Australia traded blows in a fascinating contest at the SCG.

Those following the Live match score centre will note that Australia started the day on 134-4 but as England played a choking game to starve the batsmen of runs before the new ball, key wickets also began to tumble.

Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey – Australia’s two (and only) in-form batsmen - were dismissed cheaply before Strauss could call on the shiny new Kookaburra and when Steve Smith and Peter Siddle also went cheaply, leaving the hosts 187-8, another below-par score seemed likely.

But the game was wrenched from the hands of England when the Aussies tail wagged in spectacular style.

Mitchell Johnson, who entered the middle with the taunting songs of the Barmy Army ringing in his ears, responded in the finest way possible, smashing 53 of 66 balls. He was ably assisted by Ben Hilfenhaus, who scored a handy 34.

Livescore cricket pundits note that the vital ninth wicket stand of 76 helped Australia on their way to a far more competitive 280 and left England with some thinking to do.

But just as Australia were getting on top England hit back, with Captain Andrew Strauss blasting a quick fire 60 of 58 balls and Alastair Cook continuing on his merry way this series with an unbeaten 61 – passing 5,000 test runs in the process, the second youngest player ever to do so.

Wit England 98-0 the stage was set for another large score but the match was thrown into the mix yet again thanks to two wickets from Mitchell Johnson and another from Hilfenhaus.

At 167-3 England are still in a decent position to build a first innings lead, but if the second day is anything to go by Australia are displaying more fight than we have seen for most of the series.

The Ashes may have gone but the series, as an evenly matched contest, looks to have finally come alive.

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