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Clarke century keeps Australian hopes for test comeback alive

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-20

Michael Clarke's century at Lord's has kept alive Australian hopes of a second test comeback. The visitors need a further 209 runs to reach their target of 522 set by England.

REUTERS - Michael Clarke scored his first test century in England on Sunday as Australia fought a dogged battle to save the second Ashes test at Lord's.
 

At the close of the fourth day Australia, set 522 to win, were 313 for five with Clarke on 125 and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on 80.

 

Clarke, who made 91 in the 2005 Lord's test, raced to 50 from 58 balls with fluent driving and delightful footwork. His second half-century was appreciably slower but perfectly suited to the circumstances.
 

Haddin was equally positive, hitting 10 boundaries from 126 balls, and when the players left the field for bad light the pair had added 185 for the sixth wicket.

 

The highest winning total in test history is West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia in St John's, Antigua, six years ago. England have not won an Ashes test at Lord's since 1934.
 

England looked like wrapping the game up with more than a day to spare after Australia staggered to 128 for five with off-spinner Graeme Swann getting the ball to grip and turn.

 

Clarke and Haddin, though, used their feet to negate Swann, ran swiftly between the wickets and encountered no terrors in the Lord's pitch which tends to get better for batting.
 

They still need an improbable 209 with five wickets in hand to win but the rain, which held off on Sunday, may return on Monday and an enthralling match could take yet another twist.
 

Controversial dismissals
 

England declared at their overnight total of 311 for five and Andrew Flintoff, charging in from the Pavilion end with pace and hostility, responded by dismissing both Australian openers in his first 20 balls.

 

Simon Katich (6) sliced the first delivery of his second over to Kevin Pietersen at gully and Phillip Hughes (17) was caught by Andrew Strauss diving forward at first slip.
 

Television replays indicated an element of doubt but umpire Rudi Koertzen, to Australia captain Ricky Ponting's irritation, did not ask the off-field umpire for his opinion.

 

Ponting was given a torrid time by Flintoff in the big England all-rounder's final test at Lord's. He clipped six fours to reach 38 when he was bowled trying to cut a full delivery from Stuart Broad shortly after lunch.
 

Swann, who did not take a wicket in the drawn first test in Cardiff and bowled only one over in Australia's first innings, dismissed left-handers Michael Hussey (27) and Marcus North (6).

 

Hussey was smartly caught at slip by Paul Collingwood, although his bat may have hit the ground rather than the ball which spun away sharply. North was bowled off an inside edge.
 

That was the end of the good times for England as Clarke and Haddin launched their spirited counter-attack. Strauss gathered his team in a huddle and talked to them urgently before taking the second new ball with the floodlights now on.

 

Flintoff went for 10 off his first over but both he and Anderson beat the bat and one four from Haddin flew high over the slips.

 

However, it was the Australians who looked the happier when the teams left the field after they had looked certain to go one down in the five-match series.

Date created : 2009-07-19

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