Australia scent win in Ashes opener

CARDIFF: Australia saw the back of England dangerman Kevin Pietersen and captain Andrew Strauss as they closed in on victory in the first Ashes Test here at Sophia Gardens on Sunday.

England, at lunch on the final day, were 102 for five in their second innings - still needing a further 137 runs to make Australia bat again - and, more realistically, having to themselves bat the majority of the last two sessions to save the game.

Paul Collingwood was 35 not out and Andrew Flintoff 11 not out after off-spinner Nathan Hauritz had taken two wickets for 26 runs in 12 overs.

Pietersen had taken his overnight score from three to eight when, trying to leave a delivery from swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, he got into an awkward position and was bowled off-stump just 16 minutes into the day's play.

Hauritz, who many pundits thought might be the weak link in Australia's attack, was cut for four by Strauss.

But next ball Hauritz, bowling from around the wicket, got a delivery to turn and bounce away from the left-hander and Strauss, trying to repeat his cut shot, edged behind and was well caught by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin for 17.

England, already in trouble on their overnight score of 20 for two, were now, at 46 for four, in dire straits.

None of the England batsmen looked to have enough confidence in their defensive ability to bat time - even though Collingwood had lauded modern batsmen's techniques after play on Saturday as a way of explaining the hosts' failure to bowl Australia out on a good pitch.

As if to prove the point, Matt Prior, going through with a risky cut shot off Hauritz inappropriate to England's position, fell next although it needed a fine catch from Michael Clarke to complete the dismissal.

Ashes-holders Australia had shown England how to bat on a slow pitch by piling up 674 for six declared in their first innings.

Hundreds from captain Ricky Ponting (150), Marcus North (125 not out), Simon Katich (122) and Haddin (121) saw Australia score four centuries in a Test innings against England for the first time.

North and Haddin's contributions to Australia's highest total against England in 75 years were especially creditable as both batsmen were making their Ashes debuts.

ScoreboardEngland 1st Innings 435 K Pietersen 69, P Collingwood 64, M Prior 56, M Johnson 3-87, N Hauritz 3-95Australia 1st Innings 674-6 dec R Ponting 150, M North 125 no, S Katich 122, B Haddin 121England 2nd Innings overnight: 20-2A. Strauss c Haddin b Hauritz 17A. Cook lbw b Johnson 6R. Bopara lbw b Hilfenhaus 1K. Pietersen b Hilfenhaus 8P. Collingwood not out 35M. Prior c Clarke b Hauritz 14A. Flintoff not out 11Extras b4, lb1, w1, nb4 10Total 5 wkts, 37 overs, 154 mins 102Fall of wkts 1-13, 2-17, 3-31, 4-46, 5-70Bowling Johnson 8-1-16-1 (1nb, 1w), Hilfenhaus 6-0-22-0 (2nb), Siddle 7-1-21-0 (1nb), Hauritz 12-3-26-2, Clarke 3-0-8-0, North 1-0-4-0Match position England need 137 more runs to avoid an innings defeat