Flintoff on fire again as England scent win

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Andrew Flintoff's sparkling 74 was the catalyst as England took control of the third Ashes test against Australia today.

The touring side ended the fourth day on 88 for two in their second innings, 25 runs behind, and England were scenting a victory which would put them up 2-0 in the series.

Shane Watson was unbeaten on 34 at the close with Michael Hussey on 18 following the dismissals of Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting.

Katich, on 26, was caught by wicketkeeper Matt Prior off Graham Onions and Graeme Swann took the prize wicket of the Australian captain with a perfect off-spinner which bowled him through the gate.

Flintoff, Matt Prior (41) and Stuart Broad (55) batted positively to lift England to 376 after they resumed in the morning on 116 for two following an hour's delay.

They lost captain Andrew Strauss for 69 when he edged a catch to wicketkeeper Graham Manou off Ben Hilfenhaus.

The Australian seamers made the most of the favourable conditions and England initially had to work hard for runs.

Ian Bell struck crisp drives through the covers but he was lucky to survive a huge shout for lbw off Mitchell Johnson.

The struggling left-arm seamer bowled a menacing spell to lift Australian spirits and they were raised further before lunch when Hilfenhaus tempted Paul Collingwood, on 13, with a wide delivery which he edged to Ponting at second slip.

England took lunch on 159 for four and Bell reached his fifty just after the interval.

But he had added only three more when Johnson got his reward by trapping the right-hander lbw with a fine swinging delivery.

Flintoff joined Prior and the pair shared an entertaining partnership of 89 off 97 balls which swung the match England's way.

Flintoff played a series of crashing drives and Prior also went on the attack before he was out for 41, mis-timing a pull off Peter Siddle and giving a simple catch to mid-on.

Flintoff lifted spinner Nathan Hauritz for six before reaching his fifty with a sweep for four off the same bowler and, on 74, he was eyeing his sixth test century when he was out.

Attempting to leave a delivery from Hauritz, the ball spun out of the rough and caught Flintoff's gloves on the way to Michael Clarke at slip.

The all-rounder departed to a standing ovation and England's momentum was continued by Broad and Swann.

Broad struck 55 off 64 balls, Swann a quickfire 24 and the flurry of boundaries riled Johnson who became involved in a bit of verbal jousting with the batsmen.

Swann gave a simple catch to Marcus North in the covers off Johnson, James Anderson was caught by Manou off Hilfenhaus for one and Broad was last man out, caught and bowled by Siddle.

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