Vaughan century sets England on course

Manchester, August 11:

England captain Michael Vaughan stroked 166, reviving his masterful form of the last Ashes series in three sessions when Australia’s only real joy was Shane Warne’s 600th Test wicket.

Vaughan won the toss, decided to bat and then survived dropped catches on 41 and 141 in his fourth Test hundred against Australia and his 15th overall. England was 341/5 at stumps on day one of the pivotal third Test. Brett Lee took two late wickets, including night watchman Matthew Hoggard (4) on the last ball of the day, and finished with 3-58. Ian Bell remained unbeaten on 59, facing 146 balls. Warne, who started this Test with a world-record 599 wickets, shouldered the bowling attack in an unchanged 27-over stint that netted 1-75. He reached the 600 milestone when Marcus Trescothick (63) was undone by a ball that hit his thigh, then his bat and deflected to Adam Gilchrist.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting took the new ball after 86 overs and turned to his pacemen. Lee struck with the second ball of the next over to start a spell of 2-4 in 11 balls. Lee, who spent two nights in hospital for treatment on knee infection, had Kevin Pietersen (21) caught by substitute Brad Hodge on the midwicket boundary and then bowled Hoggard. He had taken the only wicket of the first session, bowling Andrew Strauss (6) after hitting the England opener in the neck with a steeply rising ball. England was 26/1 at Strauss’ dismissal, lucky not to be two wickets down after Trescothick had a reprieve on 13 when Gilchrist put down a regulation chance off Glenn McGrath. It was the first of four costly dropped chances. Vaughan shared a 137-run, second-wicket stand with Trescothick and a 127-run, third-wicket partnership with Bell before lofting a full toss from Simon Katich to McGrath at long-on. On 141, Vaughan slashed at a Warne ball outside off stump and smacked a sharp chance to first slip, where Matt Hayden couldn’t handle the catch. McGrath boosted Australia’s bowling stocks when he made a surprise return from an ankle injury that sidelined him for the second Test.