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England in charge

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England  in charge

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MELBOURNE – England seized control of the fourth Ashes Test by skittling Australia for a record low of 98 yesterday then compounded the hosts’ misery by building a lead of 59 runs without loss at the close of the first day.
With the series tied 1-1, victory in Melbourne would ensure England retained the Ashes they regained at home last year.
The England pace attack scythed through Australia’s top order before lunch then rattled through their last six wickets for the loss of only 40 runs before tea to stun the crowd of more than 84 000.
Australia’s paltry first innings total was their lowest against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) since the inaugural match of England’s first test tour in 1876-77.
England openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook rubbed salt in the hosts’ wounds by surviving more than three hours to take the tourists to 157 at the close, profiting from sunny afternoon conditions which tamed a pitch that earlier proved a handful for Australia’s batsmen. Captain Strauss was on 64 and Cook 80 at the close.
Chris Tremlett and James Anderson each finished with four wickets, while Tim Bresnan, who replaced Steve Finn, took two for 25.
Strauss won the toss and sent Australia in to bat on a moist, grassy pitch that offered swing and varying bounce from the first ball on an overcast morning.
‘’ top order has been brittle throughout the series and they surrendered their first four wickets for just 58 runs.
Tremlett and Bresnan removed openers Shane Watson (five) and the struggling Phillip Hughes (16) respectively, the latter gifting his wicket with a miscued drive that flew straight to Kevin Pietersen at gully.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s woeful series with the bat continued as he was out for 10, edging Tremlett to Graeme Swann in the slips.
The prolific Mike Hussey, forced into the role of rescuer throughout the series, edged Anderson just before lunch to wicketkeeper Matt Prior and was out for eight.
Late swing
Anderson struck twice shortly after lunch, removing Steve Smith for six and Michael Clarke for 20, both caught behind by Prior with similar deliveries that swung late.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin then flashed at Tim Bresnan, his flat-footed drive flying straight to Strauss at first slip and sparking England’s ecstatic Barmy Army into renditions of God Save The Queen. (Reuters)