Johnson leads Australia fightback
England skittled out for just 187 runs, leavingthem trailing them by 81 as Australia begin second innings.
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2010 20:22 GMT
Mitchell Johnson, right, took six wickets as australia took control of the third Test [Reuters]

Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson inspired Australia's fightback on the second dayof the third Ashes Test in Perth.

The mercurial paceman helped skittle England out for just 187 runs on Friday, taking six wickets for 38 runs as Australia wrestled back the advantage.

The efforts of the 29-year-old Queenslander, who was dropped for the second Test in Adelaide after failing to take a wicket in the opener, gave Australia an 81-run lead as the went out to bat in their seconf innings.

However, England's seamers hit back with three wickets after tea to leave Australia 119-3 at stumps.

Steve Finn removed Phillip Hughes for 12, coaxing a nick from the 22-year-old opener that went straight to Paul Collingwood's safe hands at third slip.

Ponting fails again

The young paceman then had Ricky Ponting caught behind for one, the struggling Australian captain feathering a catch off his glove to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Ponting, who has not got more than 12 runs in his past four innings, was given not out, but England successfully appealed the decision to ensure the embattled 35-year-old receives another harsh reception in Saturday's newspapers.

Michael Clarke smashed four boundaries in an aggressive 20-run cameo but undid himself by chasing a Chris Tremlett delivery onto his stumps as Australia wobbled on 64-3.

Clarke's dismissal brought the hosts' serial rescuer Mike Hussey to the crease and the 35-year-old left-hander proved rock-solid again, adding an unbeaten 24 in a 55-run stand with opener Shane Watson (61 not out) to see Australia to a 200-run lead at the ed of the day's play.

With seven wickets in hand, the under fire Australians have the opportunity to build a big lead on Saturday as they aim to square the series.

"Only two days have gone by, we will be looking to try to bat for as long as we can tomorrow," Johnson said.

"We'll try and bat the whole day out if we can."

Swing success

But much of the credit for Australia's possible rescue will go to Johnson's swing bowling.  

Ponting failed again to make a big score, caught behind for one off Steve Finn [Reuters]

After England raced to 78 without loss, Johnson caused Alastair Cook to miscue a drive straight to Hussey at gully, then trapped Jonathan Trott for four and Kevin Pietersen lbw for a duck.

Johnson grabbed his third lbw by dismissing Collingwood for five then celebrated his fifth and sixth wickets by bowling pacemen Tremlett for two and having James Anderson caught for a duck.

Johnson's success had his fellow seamers bouncing and paceman Ryan Harris finished with 3-59 after dismissing England captain Andrew Strauss for 52, Ian Bell (53) and spinner Swann for 11.

Peter Siddle toiled in a fruitless morning session but was rewarded after lunch with a wicket when he bowled Prior for 12.

Bell admitted that England were surprised by Johnson's swing, but said all was not lost.

"In a five-Test series you are always going to have a bad day," Bell said. "It is disappointing that we haven't batted as well as we can.

"But there is still a lot to play for. If we can come back tomorrow morning and take a few wickets early on, it is going to be set up to be a fantastic Test match."

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