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Siddle Strikes, Cook’s 50 Leave First Ashes Test Evenly Poised

England Reaches 86-2 After Losing Strauss
Kevin Pieterson of England bats during day one of the First Ashes Test match between Australia and England. Photographer: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Peter Siddle took two wickets to help Australia restrict England to 172-4 at tea on day one of the series-opening Ashes cricket Test in Brisbane.

Siddle, chosen ahead of Doug Bollinger as the third pace bowler in Australia’s attack, removed Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood midway through the afternoon session to leave England struggling at 125-4.

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell steadied the innings with an unbroken 47-run partnership as Cook brought up his 23rd half-century in elite Test cricket. Cook, who was dropped when on 26 by Test debutant Xavier Doherty, is 60 not out, with Bell on 26.

England also lost two wickets for 86 runs in the morning session after captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat first amid overcast conditions at the Gabba, where Australia is unbeaten in 21 matches going back to 1988.

Strauss fell without scoring in the third ball before Shane Watson removed Jonathan Trott for 29.

Strauss, who led England to a 2-1 Ashes triumph at home last year, lasted three minutes before swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus enticed him into a cut shot that flew straight to Mike Hussey at gully. Cook and Trott then added 41 runs for the second wicket before Watson knocked over Trott’s middle stump with a delivery that speared between bat and pad.

Pietersen joined Cook in the middle and the pair guided England to lunch with a 45-run partnership. They extended their stand to 76 runs after the interval before Siddle struck twice on his 26th birthday.

Pietersen, England’s leading run scorer in Australia four years ago, was on 43 when he drove at a delivery that caught an outside edge and was snaffled by Australia captain Ricky Ponting at second slip. Collingwood followed for 4 soon after, edging to Marcus North at third slip.

While England won the past two Ashes contests staged in the U.K., its last series victory on Australian soil was in 1986-87. Australia has only lost two home series since that defeat to Mike Gatting’s England team.

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