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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More or less according to Australia's script: Fourth Test day 1

Shane Warne's 700th test wicket was understandably the highlight of today's play. Andrew Strauss was a worthy victim, who'd made his first 50 of the series before being bowled by the great man with a big spinning leg break which easily found a way between the left hander's bat and pad. The dismissal has already been replayed many times on TV here.

It shouldn't be overlooked that it was the first of yet another five wicket return which helped Australia to dismiss England for 159, a disappointing if not (I think I've said this before) unexpected total.

The same elements were there as in the first innings at Brisbane, the second at Adelaide and, to a lesser degree, in both at Perth: tight bowling by all the Australians (including Andrew Symonds), inadequate batting by the English top order, and a surrender by the tail. If Australia took all the chances that were offered the total would have been lower, but 159 was still temptingly low enough for Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer to charge at it one day style. Only two late wickets in successive balls from Andrew Flintoff slowed progress towards a first innings lead. At 2/48 Australia should achieve this, even if the pitch looks to have more to offer bowlers than the others we've seen in this series. The cold weather didn't help either side, but you'd think that the England players would be more accustomed to interruptions due to rain.

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