19 Jul 2009

England in charge in second Ashes test

8:16 am on 19 July 2009

England sense history in the makingaturday after taking an overall lead of 521 over Australia with two days' play left in the second Ashes test at Lord's.

Rain prevented a planned declaration on Saturday evening with England on 311 for six in their second innings. But the home side are still poised for a final victory surge and their first win over Australia at Lord's since 1934.

No side has scored more in their fourth innings to win a test than West Indies' 418 for seven to beat Australia at St John's, Antigua, in the 2003-3 season.

However, rain looks certain to play some part in the final six sessions and there were also six successive draws on the friendly Lord's pitch before England defeated West Indies in three days this year.

Australia, reeling at 156 for eight overnight, took their first innings total to 215 in reply to England's 425 on Saturday morning.

Andrew Strauss had the option of enforcing the follow-on or batting again in the hope of scoring enough runs as quickly as possible to give his bowlers maximum time to dismiss the Australians.

He chose the latter option although wicketkeeper Matt Prior, whose 61 from 42 balls invigorated an England innings which had been in danger of stagnating, said the decision had been by no means clearcut.

England will now pray for the cloud cover that helped James Anderson swing the ball so dangerously in Australia's first innings and will have also watched the performance of Australian off-spinner Nathan Hauritz with interest on Saturday.

Hauritz took the first three wickets in England's second innings to add to the six he captured in the drawn first test in Cardiff.