Giles hits back to unhinge Australia

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff, who had blasted five sixes in helping England to score 407 on Thursday, finished off Australia with two wickets in two balls, but it was the much-derided Ashley Giles who produced the bowling performance of the day.

In front of his home crowd, the left-arm spinner not only scuppered Australia's hopes of matching England's extraordinary scoring rate but claimed the vital wickets of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in his 3 for 78 from 26 overs.

Ponting, the Australia captain, looked the biggest threat, racing to 61 off 75 balls with 12 fours. But when he tried to sweep Giles he top-edged the shot, giving Michael Vaughan an easy catch at short fine leg.

Giles' dismissal of Clarke ended a stand of 76 with Justin Langer, the opener whose gutsy 82, spanning four-and-a-half hours, was the one innings that denied England total dominance.

Langer, who took blows to the head and body from the fast bowler Steve Harmison, batted in a manner that gained the approval of Test cricket purists, if not the Edgbaston crowd, who had seen runs flow at five an over in England's first innings. When he was dismissed leg before wicket by Simon Jones, Australia, who had been 262 for 5 before Langer's fall, rapidly subsided, Giles claiming his third wicket when Shane Warne gave him the charge.

Flintoff held a slip catch to remove Brett Lee before wrapping up the innings by dismissing Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz with consecutive balls.

The England openers Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss wasted little time in extending England's lead last night, although Warne gave an indication of what may lie in store for the home side today by bowling Strauss behind his legs with a delivery reminiscent of the ball that dismissed Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993.