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Skipper Andrew Strauss gives England an upper hand

England reached 116-2 when bad light ended play on Friday on the second day of the third Test after their swing bowlers James Anderson and Graham Onions shared nine wickets to dismiss Australia for 263.

Andrew Strauss was 64 not out and Ian Bell unbeaten on 26 at Edgbaston, taking England within 147 runs of Australia’s total after the loss of Alastair Cook for 0 and Ravi Bopara for 23.

Strauss, who made 161 in the second Test, neared his 19th Test hundred after hitting 10 boundaries in 111 balls.

Bell, recalled for the injured Kevin Pietersen, lofted spinner Nathan Hauritz for six over long-on but later survived an lbw appeal off an in-swinger by Mitchell Johnson that TV replays showed would have struck the center of middle stump.

Cook was out in the second over, edging a wide ball from Peter Siddle to debutant wicketkeeper Graham Manou, while Bopara did not add to his tea-time score before playing on to Ben Hilfenhaus.

Australia resumed the day on 126-1 and slumped after losing two wickets with the first two balls of the morning, bowled by Onions. Onions finished with 4-58, while fellow swing exponent Anderson had 5-80, including a sequence of 5-13 in 38 balls.

Australia’s last two wickets added 60 valuable runs, with final pair Hauritz (20 not out) and Hilfenhaus (20) putting on 34. Australia, 1-0 down in the series and seeking to retain the Ashes, lost nine wickets in the day for just 137 runs from 40.4 overs.

Anderson and Onions dramatically improved on their first day figures of 0-45 from 10 overs and 0-21 from three, respectively.

In between the wickets, Ricky Ponting became the highest-scoring Australian batsman in Test history, in his 124th Test, passing Allan Border’s tally of 11,174 from 156 matches after flicking Andrew Flintoff to midwicket for three runs.

But any personal joy for Ponting would have been short-lived due to Australia’s slump.

Onions trapped top-scorer Shane Watson lbw for 62 on the first ball of the day and then bowled Mike Hussey, who chose to leave a ball in line with his off stump. The score was then 126-3.

Ponting, booed to the crease on Thursday, acknowledged the generous applause he received for his record from English spectators. He is now third in the all-time Test run-scoring list behind West Indies’ Brian Lara (11,953) and India’s Sachin Tendulkar (12,773).

It was an eventful period for Ponting. He survived a run-out chance when attempting a quick single on 37 after being out of his ground when Bell’s throw from cover missed the stumps.

Ponting is renowned as the best player in the world when facing short deliveries, but his attempted hook at Onions resulted in a thin edge to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. The score was then 163-4.

While Onions started Australia’s demise, Anderson finished it. He dismissed Michael Clarke lbw for 29, though the ball may have missed leg stump, had Marcus North brilliantly caught for 12 by Prior diving in front of first slip and then trapped Johnson lbw first ball when he did not play a stroke. The ball may have bounced over the stumps.

The rain-affected first day allowed just 30 overs.

Anderson bowled Manou with a perfectly shaped out-swinger with the last ball before lunch.

The first Test was drawn and England won the second match at Lord’s by 115 runs.

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