Adelaide, Dec 18 (IANS) Australia bounced back from a wicketless first session to the end of day three of the second Ashes Test in firm control at the Adelaide Oval. After the bowlers skittled out England for 236, Australia refused to enforce the follow-on and batted to be 45/1 in 17 overs at stumps, leading by 282 runs.
After not enforcing the follow-on, David Warner and Marcus Harris were tasked with seeing off the tricky period. The duo had managed to do so but with three overs left for stumps, confusion between the left-handed openers resulted in Warner being run out for 13. Harris and nightwatchman Michael Neser ensured that Australia didn’t lose any other wicket.
The day largely belonged to Australia’s experienced bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon. The duo shared seven wickets between themselves as the tourists lost the last eight batsmen for 86 runs to be bundled out for 236, especially post a 138-run between Joe Root and Dawid Malan, which had briefly raised England’s hopes of making a comeback in the match before an unsurprising batting slide resurfaced.
Resuming from 17/2, Malan and Root looked comfortable in the first hour of the session and didn’t allow Australia’s bowlers to get settled. Malan, the more aggressive of the two, started off with an inside edge off Jhye Richardson that went past his stumps for four. He was brutal on Starc, cutting his first two balls of the day for fours over point and slip cordon. Lyon got some turn and troubled the duo but was unable to dislodge either of Root or Malan.
Malan brought up his ninth Test half-century with a pull to backward square-leg for a single against Neser. Root and Malan then brought up their second 100-run partnership for the third wicket in the Ashes. It was the eleventh-century stand for England in Test cricket this year, nine of which have involved Root. The England captain then reached his 52nd Test half-century with a glanced four through fine leg.
After England went on dinner break with no loss of wickets and 123 runs in the session, Australia began the second session strongly as Lyon and Cameron Green delivered six straight maidens. Green, who troubled Joe Root with two cracking deliveries, broke the 138-run stand, off 237 balls, as the England captain poked outside the off-stump, only for the ball to take a healthy edge to first slip.
Root’s dismissal dashed hopes of him getting his first Test century in Australia and triggered an English wobble. Malan tried to cut Starc for the second time in successive balls but the edge flew straight to Steve Smith at first slip. Ollie Pope survived an lbw call on DRS against Lyon but two balls later, he advanced and flicked straight to Marnus Labuschagne at short leg off Lyon.
Starc got his second wicket as Jos Buttler went for an expansive drive, only for the edge to fly straight to Warner at first slip. Chris Woakes started to play a little gem of a counter-attack, getting five boundaries off Richardson, with a square drive on the front foot and a fierce pull through mid-wicket being the standouts.
But, post-tea, Lyon continued his good work by extracting turn and bounce to trouble him. The effort paid off as Woakes was bowled with a quicker delivery which spun back in and clipped the inner edge of the bat. In his next over, Lyon scalped his third wicket as Ollie Robinson was rapped on the back-foot by a ball that turned in sharply. Robinson reviewed but couldn’t change the decision with the umpire’s call on impact.
Ben Stokes, sedate till then, showed first signs of aggression while trying to swing wildly against Green, getting an inner edge through fine leg. Stokes then slog-swept Lyon for a six over the deep square leg before swatting over mid-off for four. His stay at the crease was brought to an end when Stokes inner-edged to his stumps off Green.
Stuart Broad and James Anderson struck a six and four respectively off Richardson. But in the next over, Broad holed out to Travis Head at cover off Starc, giving the left-arm pacer his 50th wicket in day-night Test cricket. Though England got Warner’s wicket out of nowhere at the fag end of the day, Australia are firmly poised to win the match with two full days left.
Brief scores: Australia 473/9 dec in 150.4 overs and 54/1 in 17 overs (Marcus Harris 21 not out) lead England 236 all out in 84.1 overs (Dawid Malan 80, Joe Root 62, Mitchell Starc 4/37, Nathan Lyon 3/58) by 282 runs.