Sports, Cricket

Australia dominant as England lose top four in giant chase


Published : 19 Dec 2021 09:31 PM

Australia enhanced their dominant position by first setting a target of 468 for England and then knocking over four of England’s top order, including Joe Root late on the fourth day of the D/N Test at Adelaide.

Jhye Richardson first dented England by nabbing Haseeb Hameed with a delivery kicking up from a good length. While Dawid Malan and Rory Burns resisted for 19 overs, both fell in quick succession soon after. Malan, who had been dropped by Steve Smith at slip off Nathan Lyon, was trapped LBW in the next over by Michael Neser. And Burns fell victim to a similar round the wicket angle, edging Richardson to second slip.

Root, who copped a painful blow against Mitchell Starc, was the final one to fall -- edging the left-armer to the slip cordon and leaving his team staring at an uphill task by the end of the day.

England had started the day on a similar note, but had seen an improved bowling performance that yielded them three quick wickets. Australia then fought back having been reduced to 55/4 at one stage through fifties from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne.

James Anderson had nightwatchman Michael Neser bowled early. He was complemented well by Stuart Broad, who was menacing with fuller lengths, in his first spell. Broad first had opener Marcus Harris nicking one with Jos Buttler taking a fantastic diving catch. And could have had one more next ball when Steve Smith edged as wellbut was dropped by Buttler. Broad then hit Smith's front pad and got Ben Stokes (standing in for a then-injured Joe Root) to review but Smith was saved by the umpire's call for impact.

Smith and Labuschagne were kept quiet during that period of play but prevented England from running through. Smith eventually gloved a short ball from Ollie Robinson down the legside with Buttler making amends and completing a good catch.

However, England’s joy was short-lived for thereafter Australia continued to pile on the lead. Travis Head did not lose much time in taking the pace attack on. Even as Root was deemed fit to play later, England chose to get Robinson to bowl some offspin for a couple of overs but to no avail.

Head managed boundaries all around the ground with hard drives and pulls flowing in equal measure, getting to a fifty at better than run-a-ball. He was dismissed soon after trying to hook Robinson and being caught at the boundary by a diving Stokes. In contrast to Head, Labuschagne had been largely circumspect over the course of his 96-ball knock. But despite being beaten on multiple occasions, Labuschagne went on to register a fifty to back up his hundred in the first innings.

By then, Australia were in pursuit of quick runs with a declaration in sight. Dawid Malan and Root bagged a couple of wickets apiece with Australia on the charge before Smith declared for the second time in the match, and saw his bowlers dent England.