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England openers defy Australia with centuries in Brisbane

Alastair Cook, right, congratulates Andrew Strauss after the England captain reaches three figures at the Gabba on Saturday.
Alastair Cook, right, congratulates Andrew Strauss after the England captain reaches three figures at the Gabba on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • England reach 309-1 on fourth day of opening Ashes Test against Australia
  • Captain Andrew Strauss scores 110 and fellow opener Alastair Cook an unbeaten 132
  • Tourists lead by 88 runs overall in Brisbane with nine second-innings wickets left
  • Australia drop three catches after England openers resume on 19-0 on Saturday

(CNN) -- England cricket captain Andrew Strauss insists his side will take no chances on the final day of the opening Ashes Test in Australia after helping bat his side back into the match.

The tourists appeared to be on the back foot ahead of Saturday's action, trailing by 202 runs as they resumed at 19-0 in their second innings in Brisbane.

But where previous England teams have capitulated in such situations -- such as in the 5-0 whitewash the last time they toured Down Under in 2006-07 -- this time the Ashes holders buckled down to reach 309-1 at stumps for a lead of 88.

Strauss bounced back from his third-ball duck in the first innings to score 110, his 19th century in Tests but his first in 24 innings.

Blog: England's Ashes hopes could turn to dust

The South Africa-born player put on 188 for the first wicket with Alastair Cook, with his fellow left-hander ending the day on 132 after adding an unbroken 121 with Jonathan Trott, who made 54 not out.

If we don't bat well tomorrow, we give Australia a chance to get their foot in the door and we don't want that to happen
--Andrew Strauss
RELATED TOPICS
  • The Ashes
  • Australia
  • England
  • Andrew Strauss
  • Cricket

When asked if England might seek to set Australia a target to chase on Monday, Strauss said he preferred a cautious approach.

"We don't like to look too far ahead. It's a case of starting off tomorrow where we have finished today. If we don't bat well tomorrow, we give Australia a chance to get their foot in the door and we don't want that to happen," he told reporters.

"It was obviously important the two of us stood up and batted for the majority of the day. That gives us the psychological advantage going into tomorrow.

"Last night was pretty tricky, so coming out this morning the ball was a bit older. It's always important you don't go too much into your shell."

Cook came into the series being seen as a potential weak link in England's batting line-up by Australian pundits, but has responded by following up his first-innings 67 with his 14th Test century.

"It was very satisfying. I said at the start of the tour I had a point to prove. In my last two series against Australia I hadn't done that well," he said.

"Over the last 12 months I've had a bit of a tinker with my technique and tried to improve it. The results today, I'm very happy with."

Strauss was dropped by Mitchell Johnson on 69 with the score 119, first-innings hat-trick hero Peter Siddle gave Cook a life on 105 and vice-captain Michael Clarke spilled a chance off Trott when the South Africa-born batsman was on 34.

''It's disappointing because of how well Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin batted yesterday, to be able to get us into the position that we were starting today,'' Australia all-rounder Shane Watson said.

''I knew at the start of the day the English weren't going to give up without a fight, and they showed that from the first session."