Australia reclaim Ashes in Perth

Monday, December 18, 2006

Australia has reclaimed The Ashes after defeating England in the third 2006-07 Ashes Test match in Perth, Western Australia. The win gives Australia an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

The WACA on the second day of the third Test.

Australia lost The Ashes for the first time since 1987 in the 2005 Ashes series, when England won the series 2-1, with the other two tests drawn.

Australia won the toss and batted first on the WACA ground wicket. The English bowling dominated, dismissing Australia for 244 off 71 overs. Michael Hussey was the only Australian to build an innings, scoring an unbeaten 74. Recalled left-arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar claimed 5-92, and teammate Stephen Harmison took four wickets.

England went in to bat late on day one, and lost two wickets for 51 runs before the close of play. On the resumption of play on day two, the wickets continued to fall, and they were eventually bowled out for 215. Kevin Pietersen made 70 for the visitors, whilst Stuart Clark took 3-49 for the home team.

The second innings of Australia was a vast improvement. They lost one wicket before stumps on day two, and resumed at 1-119 on day three. They proceeded to dominate England in 40oC+ temperatures, with three Australians - Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Adam Gilchrist - scoring centuries. Gilchrist's century was the second-fastest in history, reaching 100 in 57 deliveries. Australia declared their innings closed late on day three at 5-527.

England required 557 to win in their second innings, or needed to bat for two-and-a-bit days to salvage a draw and keep the 2006-07 series alive. They were 1-18 by the close of play on day three. On day four, English batsman Alastair Cook scored his first Ashes test century, stalling Australia's roll towards victory. He was assisted by teammate Ian Bell, who made 87.

Cook was dismissed by paceman Glenn McGrath on 116 in the third last over of day four, sparking an English batting collapse; the visitors were 5-265 at stumps on day four, after losing three quick wickets. Day five saw England bat well for an hour, before collapsing after losing captain Andrew Flintoff to be all out for 350 two balls after lunch. Shane Warne finished with 4-123 in the second innings, whilst Pietersen was unbeaten on 59.

Michael Hussey was named Man of the Match for his two innings of 74 not out and 103.

The fourth test will begin on Boxing Day (December 26) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Warne requires just one wicket to be the first bowler in history to reach 700 Test wickets.

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