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Friday, July 10, 2009

Katich-Ponting partnership keeps Australia in game: Ashes 09 T1D2

Australia 1/249 (71 ov, S Katich 104*, R Ponting 100*) trail England 435 on first inns by 186 runs with 9 wkts in hand : Ashes Test #1 Day 2 at Cardiff

As a spectacle the match remained attractive during the first session as the English lower order, led by Graeme Swann's 47/40b/ 6x4, thumped the Australian bowlers for another 99 runs from only 101 balls.

On a pitch where the ball occasionally removed divots 435 looked pretty good.

When Australia batted Phillip Hughes kept the momentum going with 36/54b/ 5x4 in what we now recognise as his unique style. Neither James Anderson nor Stuart Broad could exploit Hughes' weakness against well directed short bowling as Steve Harmison had done in the England Lions game. Andrew Flintoff at second change (why didn't he open the bowling?) lifted the team with a fiery spell which removed Hughes and would have done the same to Simon Katich but for a dropped return catch.

Thereafter Katich gradually overcame his early scratchiness and Ricky Ponting, who was in pretty good touch from the outset, restored the match as a contest. Their unbroken 189/ 56ov 2nd wicket partnership made the England attack look increasingly bland. Both men reached their centuries just before stumps, when Katich was 104*/219b/8x4 and Ponting 100*/155b/8x4.

Given the uncertainty about the wicket (and perhaps the weather) Australia will need many more runs to minimise the risk of defeat. Victory may be unlikely but after Adelaide 2006-07 not impossible. For the moment a draw looks the likeliest outcome, but if you can watch the first couple of sessions of Day 3, and not just to watch Ponting, if he stays in, in top form.

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