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Australia extends lead to 369 runs in 3rd test

December 15, 2013

PERTH, Australia (AP) — David Warner put Australia into prime position to reclaim the Ashes in the third test, making England pay dearly for its missed opportunities as he helped increase the lead to 369 runs with a rapid century on Sunday.

Warner clubbed 12 boundaries and two sixes in his 112, surviving stumping opportunities on 13 and 89, and shared a 157-run opening stand with Chris Rogers (54) before lofting Graeme Swann to Ben Stokes at long-on.

The England attack sorely missed leading paceman Stuart Broad, who went for scans after being hit on the right foot as he was trapped lbw by Mitchell Johnson in the morning session and didn’t return to the field.

At stumps on day three, the Australians were 235-3 with Shane Watson on 29 and Steve Smith on five.

After big wins in the first two tests, Australia is now an overwhelming favorite to clinch the five-match series in Perth and end England’s three-series hold on the urn.

“I don’t think we could be in a better position, that’s for sure,” Rogers said. “Today was an amazing day. Probably as good a day as we’ve had in the Ashes so far. But we’ve still got 10 wickets to get — we’re not taking anything for granted.”

The Australians will be aiming to add runs quickly and declare on Monday — knowing that South Africa beat them by scoring 414-4 in the fourth innings here in 2008, which is No. 2 on the list of highest successful fourth-innings chases in test cricket.

Momentum on the middle day was with the Australians from the third over when they challenged a not-out decision for lbw against Ian Bell (15) and got it overturned. Vice-captain Matt Prior’s day started badly with an irresponsible dismissal during an England batting collapse and got worse when he missed two stumping chances against Warner and left a difficult chance from Rogers to Cook at first slip.

England resumed at 180-4 and added only 71 in 20 overs before Peter Siddle (3-36) finished them off on the stroke of lunch, giving Australia a 134-run first-innings buffer.

Ryan Harris (3-48) struck an early blow when he hit Bell on the knee with the total at 190, with DRS tracking technology showing the ball would have hit the top of middle stump.

Johnson got his first wicket of the test, and 18th in the series, when he had Stokes (18) caught behind three overs later — the dismissal coming only two balls after he got one to hit a crack in the pitch and frighteningly deviate to first slip. The cracks will widen, causing more problems for batsmen.

England passed 200 for only the second time in the series before Prior (8) picked the wrong ball from Siddle to pull and was caught behind. Johnson crushed Broad’s foot with a yorker not long after, sending him to hospital for scans and depriving England of a strike bowler.

Broad said x-rays were inconclusive and he was awaiting results from an MRI. He won’t be able to bowl on Monday but was ready to bat if England needed him. He said there was no way England had already conceded defeat in Perth.

“That’s certainly not the way we think,” he said. “We’ve had numerous tests over the past four years that we’ve managed to save when we’ve had no right to save. There’s a lot of belief in that changing room.”

Warner and Rogers had no real difficulty against the weakened attack and produced the biggest opening stand of the series. It ended after tea when Rogers played a loose shot to a wide ball from Tim Bresnan and cut straight to Michael Carberry at point.

Watson had a chance on eight, attempting a quick single, when Carberry missed a throw at the non-striker’s end that would have run him out. He had another let-off on nine when he tried to sweep Swann and paddled a difficult chance to Ian Bell, who couldn’t hold it at short leg.

Warner’s dismissal made the total 183-2 and skipper Michael Clarke’s (23) made it 223-3 a half hour before stumps on another long, hot day at the WACA.

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