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The Ashes 2nd Test: Strauss Keeps Aussies At Bay

By on July 16, 2009

The Ashes - Andrew Strauss

England end the first day’s play at Lord’s with a score of 364/6 after Australia made a remarkable comeback into the match…

England captain Andrew Strauss hit a superb century but Australia battled back towards the end of an absorbing opening day to the second Test.

The Middlesex batsman finished the day unbeaten on 161 having shared an opening stand worth 196 with Alastair Cook, who made 95.

However the tourists fought back with the ball late in the day, four wickets in the final session leaving England on 364-6 at the close at Lord’s.

Late Losses

Just as they will have done after day one of the first Test, England will lament those late losses having had the chance to cash in first on a flat wicket.

After helping England survive by the skin of their teeth in Cardiff, Monty Panesar was dropped in favour of the extra seamer in Graham Onions, who was given the nod ahead of Durham colleague Steve Harmison.

England’s openers maintained the momentum gained from that great escape in the Welsh capital with best first-wicket partnership against Australia in 18 years

Strauss led the way with his 18th Test hundred, reaching three figures just before the tea interval. It was his fourth ton against Australia and third on his home ground of Lord’s.

For much of the day Australia – who were unchanged – struggled with the ball. Mitchell Johnson was particularly harshly treated in the first session, while the tourists were unusually careless in the field.

Their cause was not helped by the loss of Nathan Hauritz, though, as he was forced off immediately after dropping a caught-and-bowled chance off Strauss.

Replays showed the spinner had suffered a dislocated finger when shelling the opportunity, leaving skipper Ricky Ponting minus one of his more steady performers in an attack that about as accurate as a scattergun in the morning.

Johnson finally got the breakthrough with a rare straight ball that seemed to beat Cook for pace and trap him in front just five short of a deserved hundred.

But while Strauss continued to go along his merry way no other batsman managed to stick around long enough to offer him much support.

Ravi Bopara eased his way to 18 from just 19 deliveries – including four boundaries – before Ben Hilfenhaus removed him lbw to make it 222-2.

Impetus

The evening session saw the impetus swing even further in Australia’s favour, starting with Kevin Pietersen’s departure for 32 shortly after the tea break when Peter Siddle found the edge through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

When Paul Collingwood, the man who had batted so well to help save the day in the Welsh capital, carelessly chipped part-time spinner Michael Clarke straight to mid-on for 16, England were wobbling at 302-4.

It soon became five when Johnson – who had finally got his radar working – got one to swing back between Matt Prior’s bat and front pad to clip off stump.

Andrew Flintoff managed just four the day after announcing his impending retirement from Test cricket, a Hilfenhaus outswinger proving his undoing as he could only steer a defensive prod straight to Ponting at second slip.

With the frontline batsmen gone Strauss needed help from Stuart Broad (seven not out) to prevent any further damage, though it remains to be seen if England will pay a dear price for not learning the lessons of Cardiff.

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