Aussies ahead with the ball

Andrew Symonds’ 2-8 from four overs left England teetering at 6-122 at lunch, which ensured the home side was on top at a critical juncture in the match after conceding the tourists first-day honours.

With England unable to build a partnership of any substance, Australia’s first innings total of 244 suddenly looked sizeable on a wicket still playing well, although it is expected to slow the longer the match runs.

Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark also claimed wickets today to leave the pressure of carrying England’s innings firmly on the shoulders of Kevin Pietersen, who was 27 not out at the break.

Australia showed its intentions in the opening overs of the day by building the pressure on England’s batsmen through some tight bowling, and it was not long until McGrath had Paul Collingwood (11) snapped up in the gully by Matthew Hayden.

England opener Andrew Strauss was then dealt his second questionable decision in succession, after compiling a steadying 42, he was adjudged caught behind off Clark despite doubt the left-hander had got any bat on a delivery slanting across him.

Although Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist went up immediately, Strauss stood his ground for a moment after umpire Rudi Koertzen slowly raised his finger, and was consoled by Pietersen as he left the ground.

Strauss was also unluckily given out bat pad in the second innings of the second Test in Adelaide, which triggered England’s calamitous collapse and sent it spiralling to 2-0 down in the series.

Symonds again found the WACA wicket to his liking when, bowling his medium pacers around the 130km/h mark, he enticed edges from England skipper Andrew Flintoff (11) and the sorely out-of-nick wicketkeeper Geraint Jones (duck), which left England 6-114.

Flintoff had earlier wafted loosely at a couple of Brett Lee fireballs and eventually got an edge to Symonds, which Shane Warne snaffled at slip moving low and to his right.

In Symonds’ next over, Jones slashed to backward point to register his third successive duck, after zeroes in the Lilac Hill festival match and during the tour match against Western Australia, and a double failure of one and 10 in Adelaide.

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