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Australia set England 561 to win in Brisbane

England must create Ashes history, after Michael Clarke and David Warner centuries power Australia to declare at 401-7.

Last updated: 23 Nov 2013 12:22
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Australia's David Warner, right, celebrates his century next to England's Joe Root on the third day's play [Reuters]

Australia have declared their second innings at 401 for seven, setting England 561 runs to win the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba on Saturday.

Skipper Michael Clarke declared with about an hour left on the third day giving his bowlers just over two days to attempt to bowl out England and take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series.

England will have to create Ashes history to win the Gabba Test, with their previous highest winning fourth innings score at 332 for seven in Melbourne in 1928.

Put in the driving seat when their bowlers dismissed the tourists for 136 at the Gabba on Friday, Clarke and David Warner gleefully grasped the controls and raced away from England in a 158-run partnership for the third wicket.

England would need to better the best ever fourth innings run chase in test cricket by 143 runs to win the match and more realistically will look to dig in and hope the rainstorms forecast for Brisbane materialise.

Warner upped the ante after play by saying the England batsmen "look like they've got scared eyes".

"We'll take the third wicket tomorrow morning and hopefully we take the rest after that,'' Warner told a news conference after stumps.

"Our bowlers are bowling fast at the moment. England are on the back foot." 

Barring a 15-minute rain delay before lunch, the weather failed England on Saturday and the day instead belonged to belligerent opener Warner and his cultured captain.

Nervous moment

Warner hammered 124 off 154 balls for his fourth test century and first against England, while Clarke's 113 came off 130 balls for the 25th hundred of his career and sixth in the Ashes.

Such days have been rare in a miserable year where Australia have failed to win a single test in back-to-back series defeats in India and England and the packed house at the Gabba revelled in the summer sunshine.

Australia had resumed on 65 without loss but Chris Rogers was gone, caught at point from Stuart Broad's first delivery, before Warner had the five runs he needed for his half century.

That was clearly never the extent of Warner's ambition, though, and with Clarke having weathered an early storm of short bowling and looking settled at the other end, he moved inexorably towards the first century of the match.

Clarke milestone

He had a nervous moment in the last over before lunch when England referred a failed appeal for leg before wicket to the TV umpire, but the replay showed Graeme Swann's delivery missed his front pad and clattered into the bat.

There were another nervous few balls on 99 before Warner found a gap in the covers for two runs off the bowling of Joe Root, the England player he infamously punched in a Birmingham bar before the first Ashes series of the year.

Warner continued in the same vein after passing the milestone but three balls after smashing Broad for a six over the bowler's head, he nicked behind and the Englishman had his revenge.

Clarke, meanwhile, passed 1,000 runs at the Gabba and pushed his team's lead past 400 with a four off Broad before punching the ball through the onside for a couple of runs to claim his century.

Spinner Graeme Swann ended up with figures of 2-135 after taking some serious punishment from Warner and Clark, including 16 in one miserable over.

He did get a measure of retribution, though, by tempting Clarke into stepping out only to miss the line for an ignominious dismissal the Australia skipper's innings did not deserve.

England also got the wickets of opener Chris Rogers (16), Shane Watson (6) and Steve Smith (0) cheaply but debutant George Bailey joined in the run spree with two sixes in his 34.

Brad Haddin, who made 94 in the first innings in his 50th test match, inflated the score with a 54-ball 53 and Mitchell Johnson pitched in with an unbeaten 39 as even England's vaunted fielding lost its way before Clarke called his batsmen in.

665

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