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England sense Ashes victory in third Test

  • Story Highlights
  • Australia close fourth day on 88-2 but still trailing by 25 runs in third Test
  • Graeme Swann claims prize scalp of Ricky Ponting in the final session
  • Andrew Flintoff hits 74 in England's first innings of 376 at Edgbaston
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(CNN) -- England gave themselves a fighting chance of victory in the rain-hit third Ashes Test after claiming the prize wicket of Australian captain Ricky Ponting late on the penultimate day at Edgbaston.

Batting hero Flintoff shakes the hand of Swann after he dismissed Ponting.

Batting hero Flintoff shakes the hand of Swann after he dismissed Ponting.

Ponting came to the wicket after Graham Onions removed Simon Katich and did not last long as he was bowled for five by a sharply spinning off-break from Graeme Swann.

Makeshift opener Shane Watson and Michael Hussey battled to the close on 88 for two wickets, still trailing by 25 runs.

Earlier, retiring England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff found his best form with the bat with a near run a ball 74 to boost the home side to 376, a first innings lead of 113.

Stuart Broad also chipped in with a quickfire half century as England's high scoring rate saw them move into a winning position despite most of the first and and the whole of the third day being lost to the weather.

Onions, who took four wickets in the first innings, got Katich to edge a full length ball to Matt Prior, but Swann's dismissal of Ponting at the end of a superb over capped a fine day for the home side.

Australia had enjoyed the better of a truncated morning session with the wickets of Andrew Srauss and Paul Collingwood and when Ian Bell went to an improved Mitchell Johnson for 53, England were 168 for five wickets.

But Flintoff, playing his final series before quitting Test cricket, shared a scintillating 89-run partnership with Prior, who made 41 before mishooking Peter Siddle to be caught in the outfield.

But Flintoff then found support from Broad until he fell shortly before tea as he attempted to leave a spinning delivery from Nathan Hauritz and gloved to first slip Michael Clarke.

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Flintoff had looked set for a deserved century, but his efforts left England in with a chance of taking a 2-0 lead in the five-Test series.

Flintoff, the hero of the epic 2005 Ashes encounter between the two old enemies, was man of the match at Lord's as England took a 1-0 lead as they try to win back the coveted urn from the world's top-rated Test side.

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