No.11 Agar strikes record 98 for Australia

Nottingham, July 12 (IANS) Ashton Agar struck a record 98 on debut to give Australia a first innings lead but England went ahead by 15 runs, ending the day at 80 for two in the second innings after an intriguing second day of the opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge here Thursday.

The 19-year-old Agar and Phil Hughes (81 not out) put on an astonishing recovery act after Australia were reduced to 117 for nine having lost five wickets in 32 balls after resuming at overnight 75/4.

Agar and Hughes put on a world record last-wicket stand worth 163 that took Australia to 280 in the first innings and a lead of 65 runs.

England captain Alastair Cook and the Kevin Pietersen combined in a third-wicket partnership of 69 to help the hosts, who were bowled out for 215 in the first innings, recover from 11-2. The pair reached the close of play unbeaten on 37 and 35 respectively.

Cook and Pietersen did the repair act after fast bowler Mitchell Starc had removed Joe Root (5) and Jonathan Trott in successive deliveries just before tea.

Earlier, Agar looked certain to become the first no 11 to make a Test century until a pull shot off Stuart Broad found Graeme Swann out at deep mid-wicket.

But still, his brilliant 101-ball knock - studded with 12 fours and two sixes - took Australia to 280 and left Hughes unbeaten on 81.

Agar, who was included in the side as a left arm spinner, must be thanking his stars since third umpire Marius Erasmus gave him not out stumped when he had just six to his name.

But replays suggested his foot was raised as wicket-keeper Matt Prior removed the bails, but the batsman got the benefit of any doubt.

At that stage the Australia had only 131 on the board after another five-wicket haul from James Anderson had tilted the balance in favour of the hosts.

But Agar and Hughes with their new record stand for the final wicket gave Australia lead that looked big when England went out to bat for the second time.

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