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August 21, 2009

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Bell combats Aussie pace

AUSTRALIA fought back at The Oval on the first day of the deciding fifth Ashes test with two wickets in the afternoon session as England lost inform captain Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood to reach 180-3 at tea yesterday.

England managed just 72 runs in the session as Australia tightened its bowling after conceding 19 boundaries before lunch. Ian Bell was 72 not out and eyeing his first test century against Australia while debutant Jonathan Trott was on 3.

England needs to win the match to regain the Ashes after Australia leveled the series at 1-1 with an emphatic innings victory in the previous match.

Australia would retain the urn with a draw.

Strauss registered the century partnership with Bell in the second over after lunch with a crunching cover drive off Stuart Clark. Next over, Strauss edged an innocuous ball outside off stump from Ben Hilfenhaus to the wicketkeeper for 55.

Strauss, England's top scorer in the series, batted for 128 minutes and struck 11 boundaries.

Bell and Collingwood consolidated once again and put on 62. Bell reached his eighth half-century against Australia with a leg glance for four off Hilfenhaus and his cover drive for four off Mitchell Johnson registered the 50 partnership.

Collingwood survived a confident appeal for a catch behind when on 20 after his loose waft at a Hilfenhaus delivery. Captain Ricky Ponting appeared stunned when umpire Billy Bowden ruled in the batsman's favor but the bowler did not appeal initially.

The Durham batsman did not remain too long, though, when another loose shot to a wide ball outside off stump from Siddle was edged to Mike Hussey at gully.

He made a labored 24 in 90 minutes.

Before lunch, Alastair Cook was dismissed in the sixth over by fast bowler Siddle for 10, edging a ball on off stump to Ponting at second slip.

Bell had an early scare as one delivery, a bouncer over leg stump, flicked his bare wrist and carried through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Only Siddle appealed for a catch despite replays showing the ball may have only missed the glove by millimeters.


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