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Legend Warne helps Aussies pull off a dramatic win

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Shane Warne’s magic has spun Australia to an incredible victory at the Adelaide Oval. The English batsmen crumbled under the guile of the magician which set up an easy chase for the Australians, just 168 to get from 36 overs to go 2-0 up. Michael Hussey as cool as ever guided his side to a six-wicket win with plenty of balls remaining. Warney had figures of 1 for 167 in the first innings when England had piled up a massive 551/6. His bowling figures when it really mattered during the final day’s play were 26-11-27-4! It wasn’t just Warne but the three fast bowlers who complemented the leg spinner at the other end with some pace and swing.

A Test Match that was heading towards a certain draw has been changed into an Australian victory thanks to the non stop spell of 26 overs unchanged by Shane Warne. He had Stuart Clark bowling at the other end who did a truly magnificent job in giving absolutely nothing away to the batsmen. The first breakthrough that the homeside got in the morning was a lucky one with Strauss given caught bat pad although his bat never came in contact with the ball after stepping down the track to the leg spinner. Strauss fell in the 10th over of the day having made a solid 34. Two overs later, Ian Bell got into a mix up with Collingwood and was run out by a great piece of fielding from Michael Clarke on the offside and Warne, the bowler who had taken the throw and flicked it onto the stumps directly. The turning point of the day came when Kevin Pietersen was bowled round his legs by a deadly leg break from Warne which reduced England to 73 for 4, the lead for them was just 111! There was no let off at the other end with Stuart Clark bowling 8 overs giving away just the 9 runs!

The scoreboard didn’t move an inch with Warne getting great support from Brett Lee, the first change of the morning. Lee got the pace and the reverse swing going that had softened up the opposition skipper Andrew Flintoff. Lee picked up the next wicket that of Flintoff who had a needless and tentative poke outside the off to give catching practice to Gilchrist. England somehow scraped through for lunch losing those 5 wickets with the lead going up to 117 only! After lunch, Geraint Jones played a dreadful shot, going after a widish delivery on the sixth or the seventh stump by Brett Lee to be caught well at gully by Matt Hayden. Moments later, Warne forced Ashley Giles to edge a sharp turning leg break which turned from outside leg, once again Hayden was the catcher, this one was at slip. The leg spinner was getting the ball to turn big and there was the puff of dust coming out of the rough outside the legstump. Collingwood who had come in at 69 for 2 had to see his side slip to 105 for 8 with Hoggard being the latest victim, bowled off an inside edge to a googly from Warne. England were on the brink of getting all out as Steve Harmison paid price for not offering a shot to an inswinger from McGrath. But the last wicket didn’t come as quickly as the others had fallen down with Paul Collingwood getting good defensive support from the left handed James Anderson. The last wicket pair battled through several leg before appeals both from Warne and McGrath. But ultimately just at the stroke of the tea break, Umpire Rudi Koertzen decided to lift his dreaded finger to adjudge Anderson leg before the wicket. It wasn’t a great decision but it wasn’t a bad decision either as McGrath’s sharp and full inswinger had struck Anderson low on the pads infront of the middle stump. That could have narrowly missed the legstump but that was the pressure everybody on the ground were feeling. All England batsmen could do today was to score only 70 runs from 54 overs at the loss of nine wickets!

England got shot out for a paltry 129 with their second innings lasting just 73 overs. Collingwood who made 206 in the first innings had to helplessly remain unbeaten on 22 which took him 119 balls! Such was the supreme accuracy that was shown by the Australian bowlers, suffocating the English to death. In the final session, came the two openers Hayden and Langer although someone like Gilchrist was expected to come in for Langer. Hoggard provided the brakes for England by capturing the wicket of Justin Langer who was caught driving at gully. Matt Hayden who was going great guns with a run-a-ball 17 went for an ambitious hook shot off Flintoff to be caught by Collingwood who took a tough catch running backwards around the mid wicket wicket region. Australia’s progress was hampered with the loss of the two wickets with 33 on the board in the sixth over. But the target wasn’t that big for the batsmen to take too many risks. A good partnership was the order of the day which was rightly followed by Ponting and Hussey. Both the batsmen who had rescued Australia in the first innings with a 192-run stand put on a match winning 83 runs this time. The partnership made it very difficult for England to force a draw as the required run rate was under control. Ponting departed having made 49 as he drove Giles into the hands of the covers fielder but by then the homeside was just 52 runs away from victory with good number of overs to go. Damien Martyn walked in and played a lofted shot off Andrew Flintoff but in the next ball got out trying to cut Flintoff. England had just a slender hope of stopping the victory for the Australians. In the 33rd over, Michael Hussey got the winning runs with a boundary and a cover drive for a couple to take Australia 2-0 up in this 5-Test Ashes Series. Hussey scored a well paced 61 from 66 balls with 5 fours, his partner at the other end was Michael Clarke who collected a well composed 21. The Man of the Match award went to Ricky Ponting who had scores of 142 and 49 in the match. The third Ashes Test begins on the 14th at the WACA ground in Perth.

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