Sunday, 5 December 2021

England hit back as Australia build 268-run lead


ADELAIDE: Australia wrestled with a seaming pink ball under floodlights to build a 268-run lead with six wickets in hand over England in an engrossing second Ashes Test in Adelaide on Monday.

In testing batting conditions the Australians struggled against the moving ball in the final twilight session as England roared back after trailing by 215 runs on the first innings. In a fast-moving third day, England were dismissed for 227 but the Australians found it difficult to score against the hooping ball under the lights, in the first-ever Ashes day/night match.

At the close, Australia were 53 for four with Peter Handscomb on three and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon not out three. “We know the night sessions are the toughest but to be four down we still have a 268-run lead and day sessions to come. We’re still very much in the driving seat,” said fast bowler Mitchell Starc. The Australians lost the wickets of Cameron Bancroft (4) and Usman Khawaja (20) to James Anderson and that of a restrained David Warner (14) to Chris Woakes in the final session.

Skipper Steve Smith survived a desperately close leg before wicket review off Anderson before he had scored. But he missed out in another tight lbw review, dismissed by Woakes for six. Holders England were fighting to stay in the Test as Australia chased a potentially decisive 2-0 lead in the five-Test series after winning last week’s Brisbane opener by 10 wickets.

“We’ve fought back well, we’ve pushed Australia back tonight and we can take some positive stuff from that,” Woakes said. “Obviously, we’re behind in the game, but at the same time it’s really good that we’ve fought back and showed some good character to get ourselves back and put some pressure on Australia .”

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Lyon and Starc brought off spectacular catches as Australia put England under pressure in the first two sessions Monday. Off-spinner Lyon pulled off a blinding one-handed catch to dismiss Moeen Ali off his own bowling in the second over after the first break. Moeen chipped to the left of Lyon, who flung himself across the pitch in a split-second reaction to take the catch.

It was another sublime display of skill from Lyon, nicknamed GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), following his laser-like throw to run out James Vince in the first Test. Moeen had scored 25 off 57 balls in a 30-run stand with Jonny Bairstow. Five overs later Bairstow was on his way for 21 after Starc juggled the return catch and finally accepted it behind his back.

Woakes and Craig Overton dug in to put on 66 for the eighth wicket before Woakes fell to a short-pitched Starc delivery, spooning a catch back to the bowler for 36. Overton remained unbeaten on 41. Stuart Broad and Anderson were dismissed shortly after the dinner break, both off Lyon, to end the England innings.  Lyon finished with four for 60 and took over from South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (54) as the world’s leading wicket-taker this year with 55, while paceman Starc claimed three for 49.

Australia had grabbed four wickets in the first session, including key batsmen Joe Root and Alastair Cook. Root shaped to drive Pat Cummins, only to send a thick edge to Cameron Bancroft at third slip for just nine. Root, third in the Test batting rankings, only faced 10 balls while Cook, England ‘s other big hope, was deceived by Lyon’s flight and edged to Steve Smith at slip for 37 off 90 balls.

The former captain, who plundered 766 runs when England won in Australia seven years ago, has scores of two, seven and 37 in his three innings in the current series. Vince went in the day’s second over to a poor shot, edging Josh Hazlewood outside off-stump to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for two. Dawid Malan was the other wicket to fall in the first session off an inside edge caught behind off Cummins for 19. Scoreboard AUSTRALIA 1ST INNINGS: 442-8 DEC

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