Agar shines as match delicately poised

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ENGLAND vs AUSTRALIA, 1st Test at Trent Bridge

England will start day 3 with a 15 run lead on a day when Australian debutant Ashton Agar recorded the highest ever test score for a number 11 batsmen.

The 19 year old spinner fell painfully short of a madien century with a score of 98 on day 2 as Australia recorded 280 in their first innings (a lead of 65). England built steadily in response, ending the day on 80-2, with Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen at the crease.

The records tumbled for Agar on what was a dramatic days cricket, firstly with the highest debutant score for the last batsmen in test cricket after a middle order batting collapse. Coming in at 117-9 with Phillip Hughes at the crease, the pair then set the record of the highest ever last wicket partnership of 163, beating the previous record of 151, set twice in 1973 and 1997 by New Zealand and Pakistan respectively.

England started very well, taking five wickets in just over half an hour on day 2 as James Anderson picked up a five-for. The fast bowler had the ball swinging brilliantly, with the tail end of the Australian line up not sure whether the ball would be swinging away or coming back in at them. Graeme Swann also claimed the wicket of Brad Haddin with a delivery that pitched far outside off stump, but turned to hit middle as the wicketkeeper was left mesmerised.

The spinner then had James Pattinson trapped lbw as Australia lost five wickets for nine runs, which brought Agar to the crease. The partnership with Phillip Hughes quickly flourished, scoring at a fast rate. His innings was nearly ended when Matt Prior was convinced that he had stumped him, but the third umpire gave the decision not out with the youngster’s foot just behind the line. It proved to be vital, as the pair went on to add over 100 before lunch as they went in with a lead of 14.

It was much the same after lunch, as the first seven overs averaged a run rate of above six. Agar kept composed with the rock solid support of Hughes, with some beautiful hook shots and cover drives, even hitting Swann for six over mid wicket. He then past Tino Best’s score of 95 to set the record of the highest ever test score for a number 11. However the fun was finally brought to an end shortly after when the 19 year old skied Stuart Broad straight to Swann deep in the field, leaving Hughes unbeaten with 81.

In reply, England lost two wickets in as many balls before tea, as the match swung further in the Aussies favour, with Joe Root caught behind and Jonathan Trott falling plumb lbw off the bowling of Mitchell Starc. Captain Cook and KP helped rebuild the innings with a 69 run partnership before the close of play, leaving the test match intriguingly open.

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