12 Jul 2009

Australia in charge in Ashes test

5:37 am on 12 July 2009

Australia are in a dominant position in the first Ashes test against England in Cardiff.

They declared at 674 for six, 239 runs in front. Wghen rain stopped play early England were 20 for 2.

There is one day to play.

Marcus North (125 not out) and Brad Haddin (121) put on exactly 200 for the sixth wicket to join Simon Katich (122) and captain Ricky Ponting (150) among the centurions.

It was the first time in Ashes history that four Australians have scored centuries in one innings and Australia's 674 for six declared conpiled over more than 12 hours was their fourth highest total against England.

Ponting's declaration after Haddin was caught on the boundary attempting a fourth six meant England needed 239 to make Australia bat again.

A distant target looked beyond reach when Alastair Cook (6) and Ravi Bopara (1) were both out lbw playing across the line in the half hour before tea. England were 20 for two but as they left the field the rain started to fall and play was finally called off at 5.37 pm (1637 GMT).

Three sessions still remain in the match and the weather is forecast to improve giving Australia every prospect of sealing victory in the first Ashes test staged in the Welsh capital.