England On The Brink Of Taking 3-1 Ashes Series Win
Australia 280 & 213-7 (Clarke 41) v
England 644 (Cook 189, Prior 118, Bell 115)
Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney, day four
England reduced Australia to 213 for seven in their second innings at stumps on day four of the fifth and final Ashes Test in Sydney, putting themselves on the brink of sealing a 3-1 series win.
Matthew Prior's maiden Test century against Australia had helped England post 644 in reply to 280 and two wickets apiece for James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan left the home side facing a heavy defeat.
Prior continued where he had left off on day three, making his way to three figures with fluency and controlled aggression, hitting 11 fours and a six in his innings of 118 in 130 balls.
He was given excellent support by Bresnan (35) and Graeme Swann, who smacked an unbeaten 36 in 25 balls while Tremlett also chipped in with 12.
Ben Hilfenhaus (4-168) and Mitchell Johnson (3-121) shared the bulk of the wickets but at great cost and there was a wicket apiece for Peter Siddle, Shane Watson and Michael Beer.
Australia's batsmen, faced with a deficit of 364, started well as openers Phillip Hughes (13) and Watson (38) put on 46 before Watson was run out and Hughes was caught by Prior off Bresnan.
Usman Khawaja (21) and Michael Clarke (41) then added 65 for the third wicket but England continued to take wickets, Anderson and Prior combining to remove both men.
Michael Hussey - by a distance Australia's best batsman of the series - managed just 12 before he was caught by Kevin Pietersen off Bresnan and Tremlett struck twice to remove Brad Haddin for 30 and Johnson without scoring.
Steven Smith, unbeaten on 24, and Siddle, on 17, ensured the game would go into a fifth day as they survived the extra 30 minutes that England were awarded in the final session.
The day had begun with the announcement that England batsman Paul Collingwood was to retire following the match and it would appear that sometime early on day five, he will be given the perfect send-off.
The rain-affected opening day saw Australia lose three wickets in quick succession as they closed on 134 for four after winning the toss and choosing to bat first. The highlight of the opening day was a fluent innings of 37 by debutant Usman Khawaja - in the side as a replacement for the injured Ricky Ponting.
Day two saw England dismiss Australia for 280 and then start their reply, Andrew Strauss making 60 in 58 balls as they closed on 167 for three.
Alastair Cook then went on to reach his third century of the series in making 189 on , which was followed up by Ian Bell's 115 on a day that was also full of controversy, with Hughes appearing to claim a catch that bounced and Bell surviving a suspected edge behind that technology failed to pick up.
England lead the series 2-1 following innings victories in Adelaide and Melbourne. Australia won by 267 runs in Perth after the opening Test in Brisbane was drawn.
© Cricket World 2011
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