Late Haddin onslaught lets Australia pick up the pace

Australia 367-7 v Worcestershire Essex win by 16 runs on Duckworth-Lewis method
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The Independent Online

The Edgbaston pitch, according to groundsman, Steve Rouse, will show similar traits. Last Thursday's tornado came within 800 yards of the ground but the torrential downpour that accompanied the storm has severely hampered its preparation.

Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer were the main benefactors on the second day of the three-day match. Australia's openers spent all but one over on Saturday watching the rain fall but each scored a half-century in an opening stand of 110 yesterday. Langer looked the more assured of the two to begin with, scoring runs with his favoured cut shot on each occasion Worcestershire's bowlers erred.

After failing twice at Lord's Hayden was determined to spend time at the crease. The powerful left- hander has struggled for runs against England this summer but he has scored heavily in each warm-up game. The pair reached 50 in identical fashion, driving the medium pace of Zander de Bruyn through extra cover for four in the final over before lunch.

Langer perished in the first over after the interval when he was superbly caught by James Pipe down the leg side off Matthew Mason.The Australian born fast bowler was the pick of Worcestershire's attack and he claimed the wicket of Hayden six overs later.

Hayden looked annoyed when he sliced a pull shot to extra cover when he looked set for a confidence boosting hundred.

Kabir Ali claimed the wicket of Ricky Ponting, when the Australian captain drove loosely at a widish ball and edged a catch to Graeme Hick at second slip, but Kabir conceded almost six runs an over.

Michael Clarke's 91 at Lord's played a crucial role in Australia's win yet he looked completely out of touch here, missing more than he hit before falling to Nadeem Malik.

Simon Katich was bowled driving at the spin of Ray Price and when Brad Hodge cut Malik to backward point Australia, on 223 for 5, were in danger of being bowled out before the close.

Australia's other Brad, Haddin, will only play when Adam Gilchrist needs a rest, but his powerful stroke-play showed that the visitors have an excellent deputy.

Haddin rode his luck. He was dropped on eight and 61, but his good fortune ran out when he was caught on the deep square leg boundary six runs short of an entertaining hundred.

This match is being viewed as a play-off between three of Australia's bowlers - Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Shaun Tait. Gillespie played in the first Test and failed to take a wicket but a sixth first-class fifty will have edged him ahead of his team-mates. Whether he retains this advantage will be seen today.

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