Ashes Test in the balance

Spoils were shared on the first day of the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval yesterday after England won the toss and elected to bat.

On a day where both teams had their periods of domination, the home side reached 319 for seven at the close of play with Andrew Strauss dominating with the bat. After he put on an 82 run opening stand with Marcus Trescothick (43), and 143 for the fifth wicket with Andrew Flintoff (72), Strauss was finally dismissed for 129. His runs came off 210 deliveries and included 17 boundaries.

Strauss was dismissed shortly before the end of play by Australian spin maestro Shane Warne. It was the bowling of Warne that saw the Australians remain in contention after the first day. He ended with the impressive figures of five for 118 from 34 overs.

At four for 274, it looked as though England would take the first day honours. But the loss of three quick wickets near the close of play saw the spoils shared.

Australia must win the Test to retain the Ashes, while England only need a draw to regain a prize that has eluded them for 17 years.

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