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England ready for crucial session England bowlers launch fightback
(about 7 hours later)
England know the second morning will be crucial if they are to retain an interest in the fourth Test. England's bowlers hit back hard on day two of the fourth Ashes Test to reduce Australia to 111-5 at lunch.
Australia resume on 48-2, trailing by 111 and looking to take another step towards an Ashes whitewash. The tourists - 3-0 down in the series - were skittled for 159 on Boxing Day but soon had a boost when Ricky Ponting mistimed a pull off Andrew Flintoff.
But Andrew Flintoff's dismissal of Justin Langer and Brett Lee with successive balls gave England hope. Matthew Hoggard then bowled Mike Hussey and Steve Harmison had Michael Clarke caught behind in his first over.
"We got a couple of wickets at the end there and if we can get two or three in the morning then we're back in the game," said batsman Andrew Strauss. Opener Matthew Hayden rode his luck to make an unbeaten 52 but the morning belonged to England and their seamers.
"It is the sort of wicket you can go bang, bang, bang on and get two or three early in the morning. It was just what Flintoff's men needed after another demoralising day on Monday.
606: DEBATE class="" href="">I expect it may not be that easy for Australia to rack up a big score OR class="" href="">606: Have your say The skipper and Hoggard were right on target from the off, causing Ponting and Hayden plenty of problems with a combination of probing lines and movement through the air.
"If we do that, we are right back in the game." A breakthrough duly came when Ponting tried to pull a wide one and holed out to Alastair Cook at mid-wicket.
England's batsmen struggled on a rain-hit opening day as Shane Warne claimed his coveted 700th Test wicket and finished with his 37th five-wicket Test haul. Hayden, who might have been given out lbw to Hoggard on the first evening, continued to look uncomfortable against his clever variation.
Overcast conditions are again forecast on Wednesday, although Melbourne should be warmer than on a decidedly bracing first day. The big left-hander saw drives fly just between short cover and mid-off and through the slips.
Matthew Hayden, who executed two powerful boundaries on his way to 17, and captain Ricky Ponting, who has yet to get off the mark, were the overnight batsmen. But Hoggard finally had his reward with the first ball after the drinks break when he comprehensively bowled Hussey, who had previously made scores of 86, 91, 61 not out, 74 not out and 103 in this series.
Things got even better for England when Harmison found bounce to have Clarke edging behind during an impressive wicket maiden.
Andrew Symonds, who has struggled to establish himself at this level, began unconvincingly.
He was beaten all ends up by an absolute pearler from Harmison, who then saw an edge bounce just short of Paul Collingwood at slip.
But he hung around to provide support to friend Hayden, who reached his fifty just before the break to remind England they still had plenty of work to do.