Poms make a stand

AUSTRALIA‘S worst Ashes fears were confirmed when their bowlers were innocuous and the team’s once-feared killer punch vanished without trace at the Gabba.

Ricky Ponting’s men started the day with their hands on the throat of an under-fire England side but released the grip in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the drawn first Ashes Test in Cardiff last year.

In a Vodafone Ashes series in which two evenly matched teams will have both good and bad days without greatly changing the balance of power, Australia can ill afford a worse day than Sunday.

Opener Alastair Cook (132 not out) batted through the day while defiant skipper Andrew Strauss (110) led a stern resistance with England (1-309) going into Monday’s closing act of the first Test with a lead of 88 runs.

Australia’s fast bowlers went wicketless with part-time spinner Marcus North having the solitary success.

If Australia’s frontline bowlers could not take a wicket on the fourth day in Brisbane, it begs the question of how will they fare on the best batting pitch in the country when the second Test starts in Adelaide on Friday.

Shane Watson bemoaned his team’s inability to keep the pressure on its opposition.

Australia dropped three catches and a drawn result today is now a $1.05 betting favourite.

That would be as good as a win for England, given Australia’s Gabba record.

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