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Watson's 176 steals the show on Day 1 at the Oval

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Shane Watson played the innings of a lifetime for Australia today, making a career best 176 from just 247 deliveries courtesy of 25 boundaries and 1 massive six to guide the visitors to a position of strength at 307-4 at the close of play on the opening day of the fifth and final Test match of the summer at The Oval.

Watson had a bit of luck go his way, dropped on 104 by Alastair Cook at slip off James Anderson, but was very much deserving of his runs, having come out in an attacking mindset and made the most of every opportunity that came his way. He had scored the bulk of Australia's runs though at that stage, and the Aussies would have been in a spot of bother at 151-4 had Cook held on to the regulation chance.

The day started well for England, who had lost the toss and been asked to field. David Warner fell caught behind to James Anderson for 6, leaving Australia 11-1 in just the 5th over. Shane Watson had been bumped up to no.3 in the order with Usman Khawaja having been dropped from the side for this game, with bowling allrounder James Faulkner handed his test debut.

Watson and Chris Rogers added 107 for the second wicket, of which the latter contributed 23 before falling shortly after lunch, once again to Graeme Swann.

Michael Clarke came and went for a painstaking 7 from 39 balls before Watson found a composed partner in young Steven Smith, who chipped in with an unbeaten 66 and will be eyeing his maiden test ton tomorrow.

Stuart Broad removed Watson for 176 with just 3 overs left in the day's play, but nightwatchman Peter Siddle came out and showed how good the wicket truly was, making a brisk 18 from 15 balls while 'protecting' Smith.

Australia will be looking to add at least another 150-200 runs tomorrow and bat for most of the day as they look to make the most of the best batting conditions on offer at the Oval.

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 307-4 (90 overs, 3.41rpo)

S Watson 176 (247) J Anderson 2-52 (18)

S Smith 66* (133) G Swann 1-71 (30)