Eng in command of third Test

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Apenglandteam.jpg' class='caption'> England are in a position to enforce the follow on against Australia in the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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England are in a position to enforce the follow on against Australia in the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. Ashley Giles and Simon Jones took three wickets apiece to have Australia reeling on 214 for seven Friday, still needing 31 runs to avoid the follow-on. Shane Warne was unbeaten on 45 and Jason Gillespie was not out 4 at stumps on the second day, replying to England's 444. The last time England enforced a follow-on in the Ashes was in November 1986, when it won by seven wickets at Brisbane en route to a 2-1 series win. Australia rebounded in 1989 to win the series 4-0 and has held the Ashes ever since. Aura of invincibility But Australia's aura of invincibility is on the wane. The English players are looking sharper in the field and their five-man bowling attack has unnerved the Australian batsmen. Since losing the series-opener at Lord's by 239 runs last month, England has dominated all but one of the next six days of cricket. The English won by two runs at Edgbaston on Sunday - the narrowest win ever in Ashes history - to level the five-match series 1-1. Warne scored 42 in Australia's second innings at Edgbaston as the last two partnerships added 104 runs to get within three wins of an improbable win. Brett Lee, who is next in for Australia, scored an unbeaten 43 in that rearguard fightback. Giles said England can't afford to let the pressure off this time. England hasn't led an Ashes series since 1997, when it opened with a win and a draw before Australia rallied to retain cricket's oldest prize. England captain Michael Vaughan ensured his team carried the momentum from Edgbaston to Old Trafford when he won the toss Thursday, elected to bat and then contributed 166 - the first hundred of the series - in a first-day total of 341-5. Flintoff belted 46 in an 87-run partnership with Geraint Jones (42) to boost England to 433-6 on the second morning, but his lofted catch to Justin Langer off Warne triggered a collapse. Late spell England lost its last four wickets for 11 runs. Warne exploited some patches of rough in a late spell that netted two wickets in 11 balls and finished with 4-99. He'd had Marcus Trescothick caught behind on Thursday to become the first bowler to take 600 Test wickets. He added three more on Friday. Giles, a left-arm fingerspinner, reveled in similar conditions, returning 3-66 in 21 overs unchanged on Friday evening. Simon Jones took 3-30 at the other end. Giles started the slide, breaking Australia's best opening stand of the series by removing Justin Langer (31) with the total at 58. Langer survived a caught-behind appeal in Giles' first over - the 15th of the innings - but was out next ball, stepping down the pitch and hitting to Ian Bell, who took a one-handed reflex catch at short leg. The Australians capitulated after tea. Captain Ricky Ponting (7) was out on the first ball of the session, fending at Simon Jones and looping a catch to Bell at gully. Giles trapped Hayden (34) lbw and then bowled Damien Martyn (20) with a ball that pitched on leg stump and took out off as Australia slumped to 115-4. Stump knocked out Simon Katich made 17 before he inexplicably shouldered arms to Flintoff and had his off stump knocked out, causing Australia to summon Michael Clarke from his sickbed. Clarke had been sidelined with a back problem for all but two overs of the match until he was called in. Usually batting at No. 5, he went in after Adam Gilchrist (30) - who was dropped twice in six balls from Flintoff when he was 12 and 13 - edged Simon Jones to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, ending a 53-run, sixth-wicket stand with Warne. Clarke - using Hayden as a runner - lasted only 18 minutes before hitting Simon Jones' slower ball to Flintoff at mid-off, making Australia 197-7 about 15 minutes before stumps. The Australians haven't lost consecutive Tests to England since 1985 and haven't lost consecutive tests to any nation since the Indian tour in 2001, when Steve Waugh's decision to enforce a follow-on backfired and India had a memorable triumph. The Australians haven't been forced to follow-on against any team since losing to Pakistan in Karachi in 1998. Although India had a big enough lead in a test at Sydney last year but didn't send the Australians back in. That match petered to a draw. (With AP inputs)

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