Updated: 12/26/2013 13:04 | By Agence France-Presse

Aussies tie down English and pick up three wickets

Persistent Australian bowling tied down England and picked up three wickets on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne on Thursday.


Aussies tie down English and pick up three wickets

Australian bowler Ryan Harris (C) is congratulated by teammates after dismissing England's batsman Joe Root on the first day of their fourth Ashes Test, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), on December 26, 2013

Before a huge Boxing Day festive crowd at the MCG, Ryan Harris led the home side's attack to have the beleaguered tourists under pressure after being sent into bat.

The Australians' tight bowling line restricted the English scoring and picked the wickets of opener Michael Carberry and Joe Root in the middle session.

At tea, the tourists were 135 for three off 54 overs with Kevin Pietersen on 20 off 57 balls and Ian Bell not out 11 from 35 balls.

Pietersen, who took 12 balls to get off the mark, had some luck on six when he was caught by fielding substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile at deep backward square leg off Harris.

But Coulter-Nile was unable to stay within the field of play in taking the catch and Pietersen was awarded a six.

Carberry shouldered arms and lost his off-stump to a Shane Watson inswinger to waste another good start and be out for 38.

Carberry, who was dropped in the slips on two, had done all the hard work and was beaten by a terrific movement off the pitch from Watson in the 34th over of the innings.

It was the third time allrounder Watson had snared Carberry's wicket in this series and in nine Test innings Carberry has been out six times between 30 and 43.

Harris removed Root with an outswinger, enticing an edge to 'keeper Brad Haddin for 24 in the 43rd over.

Root, like Carberry, had established himself in an 82-ball stay but Harris's perseverance won through in a patient bowling performance.

But Watson's well-catalogued injury jinx struck again when he was unable to complete his seventh over late in the middle session and left the ground for treatment for a right groin problem.

Australia captain Michael Clarke, with the Ashes already tucked away with an unassailable 3-0 series lead, won the toss and attempted to put the troubled tourists under immediate pressure under overcast skies.

England got to first hour drinks without losing a wicket but lost skipper Alastair Cook three overs later when he nibbled at Peter Siddle and was caught by Clarke at second slip for 27.

In the 19 tosses Clarke has had as Australia skipper it was only the fourth time he has put the opposing team into bat.

England dropped vice-captain Matt Prior and named Jonny Bairstow as wicketkeeper, while Monty Panesar was chosen as the specialist spinner following the shock mid-series retirement of Graeme Swann.

Prior, who has played 75 Tests, has not missed a Test since being recalled for England in 2009 but paid for a poor series, averaging just 17.83 and twice missing stumpings of David Warner in Perth when the Australia opener made a second innings century.

It is the first time since August 2008 that England have gone into a Test without Jonathan Trott, Prior or Swann.

Australia named an unchanged side for the fourth consecutive Test in the series.

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