Ponting has been fined 40 per cent of his match fee after clashing with umpire Aleem Dar [GALLO/GETTY] 

England have closed second day of the fourth Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with a 346 run lead in the first innings.

England side batted out the entire second day, on Monday, to take full advantage of Australia's record lowest total of 98 in 133 years of Ashes Tests at the famous ground.

An unbeaten 141 by Jonathan Trott, England batsman, propelled his team to 444-5 at stumps.

Trott overcame a painful blow to the knee, to score his third century in five Ashes Tests, after he was floored by a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that deflected off his bat and struck him on the side of his left knee when on 76.

The Cape Town-born batsman slumped to the ground in pain and lay prone for a number of minutes as he received medical attention.

However, he got to his feet gingerly, and eventually brought up his ton with a flick through midwicket that raced to the boundary at the MCG.

He had some luck along the way and needed a referral to avoid a tight run-out decision on 46, just beating home Ricky Ponting's throw from the deep.

Trott's knock was a clear reminder of his brilliant second innings of 119 on his test debut at the Oval last year, which helped England seal the Ashes in the fifth test.

"It's an important Test match and it's one that I will definitely savour," Trott said.

"The Boxing Day Test has all the hype around it and the crowd and the support of the English fans put it right up there. I work hard on my game and it's good to be able to contribute to put the team in a good position," he said.

Hopes killed

An unbeaten 163-run stand between Trott and Matthew Prior killed off the Australians' hopes of salvaging the test after their pacemen had threatened to stall England's charge with three wickets in an incident-packed second session.

Wicketkeeper Prior was on 75 at stumps as the pair eclipsed the previous English record wicket partnership at the MCG of 140 between Patsy Hendren and Maurice Leyland in 1928-29.

Prior was also lucky to be called back by umpire Aleem Dar, when he walked off the crease after being caught in the slips when on five.

Dar consulted with the third umpire and it was proved that Johnson had over-stepped for a no-ball, giving the England wicketkeeper a reprieve.

Australia's bowlers were handed the thankless task of protecting a paltry first innings total of 98.

And were under pressure from the start of the day's proceedings, after allowing Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook to romp to stumps an unbeaten opening partnership of 157.

Peter Siddle, Australia paceman single-handedly kept his side in the contest with the wickets of Alastair Cook, Strauss and Kevin Pietersen.

Great catches

Siddle had Cook caught at first slip by Shane Watson for 82 to end an English opening stand of 159 and then had Strauss brilliantly caught one-handed by a leaping Michael Hussey in the gully for 69.

Pietersen was trapped lbw to Siddle for 51 after raising his 21st Test half-century.

He then took two great catches at fine leg off Mitchell Johnson's bowling.

"It was a tough day, starting so far behind it was always going to be tough work," Siddle said.

Paul Collingwood's series woes continued when he fell for eight off a poor hook shot straight to Siddle in Johnson's first over of a new spell.

Collingwood has scored just 70 in five innings in the series, casting doubts on his place for next week's final Sydney Test.

Earlier in his innings, Pietersen was the subject of an Australian referral for caught behind by wicketkeeper Haddin off Ryan Harris on 49.

Haddin demanded a referral but the 'hot-spot' replays showed no evidence of an edge and the decision was upheld.

Provoking jeers

Ponting and Siddle remonstrated with Dar for more than a minute between overs, prompting jeers from the crowd.

The International Cricket Council has fined skipper Ponting, 40 per cent of his match fee after an ugly on-field row with umpire Aleem Dar.

The five-test Ashes series is tied at 1-1.

England, who currently hold the Ashes, need to win only the Melbourne test to be the first team to retain the Ashes on Australian soil since Mike Gatting's side in 1986/87.

England will aim to build an insurmountable lead on day three and have more than two days to bowl out Australia, whose top order batsmen have failed throughout the series.

England last won a famous victory at the MCG in 1998 with Dean Headley taking 6-60 in the second innings as the tourists won by just 12 nail-biting runs.

Australia's only loss at the MCG this decade has been against South Africa two years ago as the Proteas went on to win their first-ever series in Australia.

Source: Agencies