Australia fight back against England

LONDON: Australia fought back at The Oval on the first day of the deciding fifth Ashes Test with two wickets in the afternoon session as England lost in-form captain Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood to reach 180-3 at tea today.

England managed just 72 runs in the session as Australia tightened their bowling after conceding 19 boundaries before lunch. Ian Bell was 72 not out while debutant Jonathan Trott was on three. England need to win the match to regain the Ashes after Australia leveled the series at 1-1 with an emphatic innings victory in the previous match. Australia would retain the urn with a draw.

Strauss registered the century partnership with Bell in the second over after lunch with a crunching cover drive off Stuart Clark. Next over, Strauss edged the from Ben Hilfenhaus to the wicketkeeper for 55.

Bell and Collingwood (24) consolidated once again and put on 62. Bell reached his eighth half-century against Australia with a leg glance for four off Hilfenhaus and his cover drive for four off Mitchell Johnson registered the 50 partnership. Collingwood survived a confident appeal for a catch behind when on 20 after his loose waft at a Hilfenhaus delivery. The Durham batsman did not remain too long, though, when he edged to Mike Hussey at gully.

Before lunch, Alastair Cook (10) was dismissed in the sixth over by fast bowler Siddle, edging a ball on off stump to Ponting at second slip. Bell had an early scare as one delivery, a bouncer over leg stump, flicked his bare wrist and carried through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Only Siddle appealed for a catch despite replays showing the ball may have only missed the glove by millimeters.

Bell endured a torrid start against left-arm fast bowler Johnson, whose first three deliveries were all well-directed short balls. The first flicked his shirt on the way to the keeper, the second was fended away uncomfortably and the third bounced off his bat behind short square leg.

Australia named an unchanged team, again leaving out their leading spin bowler Nathan Hauritz on a pitch that is expected to encourage the slow bowlers. England recalled all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for his final Test.