Belfast Telegraph

The Ashes: Trott running the show as England close in

The International Cricket Council may have gone easy on Ricky Ponting, but Jonathan Trott certainly did not as Australia suffered again on a fractious day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

There is simply little doubt Australian captain Ponting might have been treated more harshly than by a 40 per cent fine of his match fee for his unedifying remonstrations with umpire Aleem Dar.

But Trott, with 141 not out, saw to it that there was precious little consolation for Ponting, chiselling out his third Ashes hundred in just five Tests as Australia's already faint hopes of somehow regaining the urn faded still more.

Trott battled through the pain of an injured knee, picked up when he had inside-edged the ball on to an unprotected part of the joint, to underpin England's lead of 346 in a total of 444 for five by stumps on day two of this Boxing Day Test.

Trott shared stands of 92 with Kevin Pietersen (51) and an unbroken 158 with Matt Prior (75no) — after Peter Siddle (three for 58) had briefly hinted at a home fightback by shifting openers Alastair Cook (82) and Andrew Strauss (69) for only seven runs between them, in addition to their partnership of 157.

A 2-1 lead, and therefore Ashes retention, has appeared England's for the taking since teatime on Sunday — and Trott set about significant consolidation in a typically earnest and determined 278-ball innings so far.

“This is definitely an important Test match and one I'll savour,” Trott said.

“They're all pretty special. But Boxing Day, with the hype around it and the support from the English fans, it would definitely be right up there.”

</>\[Chris Holt\]As for that knee injury, which left him hobbling for most of the final session, the Trott grit saw him through.

“It was one of the most painful things I've felt in my life,” he admitted.

“I asked for the runner to put the pads on and see how it went.

“I gave it 20 minutes to see if it stiffened up. It stiffened up a little bit . . . that'll teach for me inside-edging it.”

If that was a minor setback for Trott, tl INDIA are favourites to level the series against South Africa after a see-saw second day at Kingsmead, during which 18 wickets fell.

India were dismissed for 205 before lunch, Dale Steyn finishing with 6-50 — his 15th five-wicket haul in Tests.

But the hosts were skittled for 131 in 37.2 overs, spinner Harbhajan Singh the chief destroyer with 4-10.

At stumps India were 92-4 in their second innings, a lead of 166. South Africa won the first Test in Centurion.

India began the day on 183-6 but their tail was quickly blown away by the lethal pace duo of Steyn and Morne Morkel.

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