Australia's Ashes hopes are dimming - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia's Ashes hopes are dimming

By Adam Cooper 12/09/2005 05:39:49 AM Comments (0)

Australia's dreams of retaining the Ashes were as dim as the light at The Oval, as England's batsmen relished the chance to get off the ground and away from Shane Warne.

England was 1-34 in its second innings, leading by 40 runs, at stumps on day four in the fifth and final Test, after bad light prevented Australia from pushing for a series-levelling victory, which would retain it the urn.

Instead England, which needs only a draw to regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years, was in a sound position to avoid defeat, provided it can bat for most of Monday and build a sizeable lead.

Only another monumental bowling performance from Australia can earn it victory on the final day.

England took a six-run lead on the first innings when it bowled the tourists out for 367 in the second session, on the back of Andrew Flintoff's 5-78 and Matthew Hoggard's 4-97.

But Warne's dismissal of Andrew Strauss for one in the legspinner's first over - the sixth time this series Warne removed the England opener - sent a shudder into the home camp, as Test cricket's leading wicket-taker looked poised to wreak more havoc.

However England got its get-out-of-jail card in the form of bad light, and home captain Michael Vaughan immediately accepted the umpires' offer 35 minutes into the final session.

The Australians were understandably reluctant to leave, and captain Ricky Ponting spoke with umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden in an attempt to convince them to let him bowl his spinners. They declined the request.

Vaughan ended the day on 19 not out and Marcus Trescothick 14 not out.

The past two days of rain and bad light have cost Australia 134 overs for the duration of the match for the first four days.

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