Australia make strong start to third Test

Australia 126-1 v England
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Shane Watson helped Australia to 126-1 against England at the close of the first day of the third Ashes test at Edgbaston today after he was recalled as a makeshift opener in place of Phillip Hughes.

Watson, recovered from a knee injury, was 62 not out at stumps with his captain Ricky Ponting on 17 following an erratic bowling display from England. Simon Katich was out for 46 from 48 balls in an opening stand of 85. There were 22 fours in the session.

The match started six hours late because of rain but ended at 7 pm with conditions still playable under blue skies. Only 30 of the scheduled 90 overs in the day were played.

James Anderson was unfortunate not to have Katich lbw when he was on five after the ball struck his pad on the line of off-stump. The left-hander and Watson went on to punish some wayward bowling.

Andrew Flintoff's fourth over the eighth of the innings cost 10 runs as both openers each struck a boundary. It summed up Australia's dominance in the first hour when 11 fours were struck.

Watson registered the team's fifty with an elegant off-drive for four off Graham Onions' second ball of the match. In the same over, Watson survived a close lbw appeal before crashing a pull through midwicket for four.

First and second change bowlers Onions and Stuart Broad each allowed two boundaries from their first overs. The boundary count numbered 16 after 18 overs. Onions was taken out of the attack after letting three fours from his third over.

England's bowling lacked the accuracy and hostility that marked its 115-run win at Lord's in the second test, which put it 1-0 up in the five-match series.

The breakthrough came with a change of pace as off-spinner Graeme Swann trapped Katich lbw with his first ball to the left-hander. Katich tried to pull Swann through midwicket and failed to connect and was struck in line with the stumps.

Ponting's first four, a cover drive off Anderson, brought up 20,000 first-class career runs and the team's 100. The same over Watson reached his half-century courtesy of an Onions mis-field at mid-on. He had stroked eight fours in getting there.

Australia won the toss before Ponting announced one change in its lineup, prior to a late drama that led to a forced second alteration.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin sustained a suspected broken finger on his left hand in practice after the toss. Australia then received permission from the England team to replace Haddin with reserve keeper Graham Manou, who is making his test debut.

Hughes, who had scores of 36, 4 and 17 in the series, announced his omission on Twitter.

England made one change with Ian Bell replacing Kevin Pietersen, who had surgery on his Achilles last Tuesday.

The first test in Cardiff was drawn after England saved the match after a defeat had seemed likely.