28 Dec 2010

England's total dominance continues as Ponting loses rag

5:37 am on 28 December 2010

England took another significant step closer to retaining the Ashes on day two of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, while the pressure appears to be getting to Australia.

Needing some luck after the Boxing Day bumble, things again didn't go Australia's way, while England took their chances and Australian captain Ricky Ponting lost his cool. Ponting's been fined 40 per cent of his match fee after arguing repeatedly with the umpires over decisions that went against his side.

Typifying the hosts' day in the field was Matt Prior's survival after tea despite being initially given out for five when he nicked one behind off Mitchell Johnson. Umpire Aleem Dar raised his finger but then recalled Prior after consulting the video umpire, who found Johnson had overstepped the mark.

The England wicketkeeper cashed in on the no ball call to be unbeaten on 75 at stumps in a 158-run stand with centurion Jonathan Trott, completely blunting Australia's fightback.

Trott's on 141 and England are 444 for five, a lead of 346 runs.

Ponting was found guilty of breaching the ICC's Code of Conduct, starting with a furious reaction to a failed review of what the hosts thought was Kevin Pietersen nicking one behind to the wicketkeeper.

Pietersen went lbw for 51 soon after but Ponting's day grew worse when he thought his throw from deep midwicket resulted in the run-out of Jonathan Trott. The replays forced the umpire to rule in favour of the batsman.

Paceman Peter Siddle claimed three of the five English scalps taking the wickets of half century makers Alistair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Pietersen, before taking two catches to give the home side a glimmer of hope in the crucial match.

If England win in Melbourne they will retain the Ashes with the tourists needing only to draw the 5-match series, which is currently tied at 1-all.