Aussies close in on Super Test win
by AFP

Ground:Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Event:Johnnie Walker Super Series 2005/06

DateLine: 16th October 2005


The World XI must face the twin leg-spin menace of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill to conjure a come-from-behind victory against Australia in the Super Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.


The world all-stars will have to battle against historical odds to pull off an improbable victory after they were set 355 runs Sunday to win the one-off Test on a turning SCG pitch with three scheduled days left to play.


No side has scored more than 276 runs to win a Test at the SCG since Australia faced England in 1898.


But the world side got off to a horror start, losing both openers Graeme Smith and Virender Sehwag inside the first six overs.


When bad light ended play 33 overs early, the World XI were 25 for two and still 330 runs adrift of an unlikely win. Rahul Dravid was not out 17 with Brian Lara yet to score.


"It's looking pretty much in Australia's favour at the moment. We are on top," Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath said.


"I think the Test will be over one way or the other tomorrow. If they get the runs it's going to be a fair effort."


England's Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff conceded it's a tough ask for the world stars, but is not giving up hope.


"It's a big score. We need 330 but with the players we've got in our ranks, Brian Lara, Inzamam, Rahul (Dravid), it will take a special performance off one or two guys but within the side we've got people who can do that," he said.


Smith was bowled by the fifth ball of Glenn McGrath's opening over and in failing light MacGill coaxed a bottom inside-edge off Sehwag into Gilchrist's gloves for seven to send the world team reeling to 18 for two.


Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Muttiah Muralitharan earlier triggered an Australian batting collapse of 9-47 off 23.4 overs to give the World XI a glimmer of hope.


Australia tumbled from 152 for one to all out for 199 with Muralitharan, Harmison and Flintoff all finishing with three wickets.


Flintoff claimed the wickets of Ponting (54), all-rounder Shane Watsonand Warne (7) to finish with 3-48 off 16 overs.


Muralitharan was at his mesmerising best, bamboozling Simon Katich (2), Adam Gilchrist (1) and McGrath (2) to come away with 3-55 from 24 overs.


Harmison clean bowled topscorer Matthew Hayden (77) and Michael Clarkeand had Brett Lee caught in the deep for three to capture 3-41 off 12.3 overs.


"We bowled well today. I think we realised with the bat we under-performed and the bowlers came to the party today," Flintoff said.


"Steve (Harmison) made the breakthrough and Murali and I managed to take a few wickets and get us in a position where it is possible to chase 350. It's not easy by any means."


Harmison struck twice before lunch to trigger the collapse with the wickets of Hayden and Clarke.


Hayden was on course for his third consecutive Test hundred after a dismal Ashes series in England before the Durham fast-bowling giant struck in his ninth over.


Hayden scored 111 in Australia's first innings but he was bowled by a Harmison yorker for 77, put together in 189 minutes off 120 balls and breaking a 122-run partnership with Ponting.


Clarke only lasted eight balls before he was bowled for five in Harmison's next over.


Ponting added two runs to his lunch-time score before he was caught by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher off Flintoff for 54.


Katich looked flummoxed against Muralitharan and gave a return catch to the Sri Lankan for two in the next over.


Gilchrist, who narrowly missed out on a century in the first innings with a typical swashbuckling 94, went for one off three balls, caught at slip by Jacques Kallis off Muralitharan as Australia lost scoring momentum.


Warne survived a referred close-in catch, but paddled a catch to Rahul Dravid at mid-wicket for seven, giving Flintoff his second wicket in five overs.


Watson went to a referred catch behind for 10 in an hour attempting to hook and giving Flintoff his third wicket.


Gloomy light prevented play for 75 minutes after tea and the Australian innings quickly folded when play resumed. Muralitharan snared McGrath's wicket and Lee hit out to Harmison.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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