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Watson drives Australia onto front foot

Australia start first day of final Test strongly with Shane Watson hitting huge innings as England struggle at The Oval.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 19:03
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Watson restored some batting pride at The Oval with 176 runs to the cause [GALLO/GETTY]

Shane Watson's magnificent 176 put Australia in command at 307 for four on the first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test against England at The Oval on Wednesday.

The powerful right-hander started out all guns blazing and, after being struck on the head by a Stuart Broad bouncer, he dug in to post his highest Test score and share a fourth-wicket partnership of 145 with Steve Smith.

"It was a big relief to get to three figures, there's no doubt about that," Watson told a news conference.

"For me the important thing was to bat for a long period of time and I have been working very hard to be able to do that." 

First day scorecard

Australia first innings   

C.Rogers c Trott b Swann 23
D.Warner c Prior b Anderson 6
S.Watson c Pietersen b Broad 176
M.Clarke b Anderson 7
S.Smith not out 66
P.Siddle not out 18
Extras (lb-6 nb-5) 11
Total (for four wickets, 90 overs) 307

Fall: 1-11 2-118 3-144 4-289

Bowling: Anderson 18-3-52-2, Broad 19-3-73-1 (4nb), Swann 30-4-71-1, Woakes 15-5-52-0, Kerrigan 8-0-53-0 (1nb)

 

England, seeking to win a home Ashes series 4-0 for the first time, endured a gruelling day in the field after handing shock debuts to all-rounder Chris Woakes and left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan who conceded 53 runs in eight nervous overs.

"It was a tough day for us but I thought we stuck to our task as a bowling group pretty well," England fast bowler James Anderson said after becoming his country's second-highest Test wicket-taker.

"Watson played out of his skin and made it very difficult to bowl at him but we've had tough days in the series before and clawed our way back."

Michael Clarke unsurprisingly chose to bat first after winning the toss on a good pitch.

However, England had an early breakthrough when David Warner played a loose shot outside off-stump to James Anderson and was caught behind for six.

But with England's bowlers failing to gain much movement, Watson, hitting through the line with confidence, was 80 not out at lunch.

Chris Rogers, who helped Watson add 107, then fell for 23 when he edged off-spinner Graeme Swann to Jonathan Trott at slip.

Watson, on 91, was struck on the side of his head unprotected by his helmet, after he took his eye off a Stuart Broad bouncer.

Anderson then captured the prize wicket of Clarke, bowled off the pad for seven, with the Lancashire paceman's 326th Test wicket moving him past Bob Willis and into sole possession of second place on England's all-time list of leading Test wicket-takers behind Ian Botham (383).

Nervy nineties

Watson, who batted on after his painful blow, spent 41 minutes in the 90s before driving Anderson to complete a hundred in a mere 114 balls.

However, he should have been out on 104 when he edged Anderson only for England captain Alastair Cook to drop a seemingly simple catch at first slip.

Kerrigan's difficult day continued when he was called for a no-ball as a result of a dangerous head-high full-toss smashed to the boundary by Smith, who went on to make a 113-ball 50 featuring five fours and a six.

Late on, Woakes thought he had a maiden Test wicket when Watson missed an attempted pull and was given out lbw on 166.

But Watson challenged Kumar Dharmasena's call and, after the Decision Review System indicated the ball would have cleared the stumps, the Sri Lankan umpire reversed his original verdict.

Watson, though, was out when a powerful hook off a Broad bouncer was brilliantly caught by Kevin Pietersen, running round at deep backward square leg, to end a near six-hour innings of 247 balls with 25 fours and a six.

Both teams made changes following England's 74-run fourth Test win at Chester-le-Street, with the hosts missing injured all-rounder Tim Bresnan and dropping out-of-form batsman Jonny Bairstow.

Australia, looking for their first win in nine Tests, gave a debut to all-rounder James Faulkner and recalled Mitchell Starc after they dropped batsman Usman Khawaja and paceman Jackson Bird.

712

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