Sports, Cricket

Bowlers put Australia back on top

Published : 18 Dec 2021 09:54 PM

After enjoying their best session of the Test, England came tumbling down in the next two sessions, giving Australia a 237-run first-innings lead in the D/N Test in Adelaide. Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon shared seven wickets to bowl England out for 236 despite stoic resistance in the first session.

Joe Root and Dawid Malan, who went through unscathed in the first session, were worked over in the second by different plans from Australia. Root was tested by Cameron Green, who had got him out in the previous Test, on the offstump channel. And after having him play and miss a couple of times, Green had him nicking to slip on 63 ending a 138-run stand for the third wicket. Soon after Mitchell Starc was brought in, testing Malan on a shorter length outside off with the field set accordingly. Malan took the bait, cut Starc for a boundary but nicked to slip going for an encore.

Having ended that resistance, Australia tightened the noose further. Nathan Lyon, who had supported Green earlier with a tight spell, had Ollie Pope in trouble. Having first got a decision overturned for a bat-pad catch, Pope was done in the air in the same over and gave Marnus Labuschagne a sharp chance at short leg. England's slide continued with Jos Buttler chasing a wide one from Starc and edging to the slip cordon. With Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson falling prey to sharp offbreaks from Lyon, England's innings drew quickly to a close. Ben Stokes who had been tight in defence decided to counterattack and was bowled by Green before the final pair was felled by the pacers' short-ball tactics.

England had lost their last eight wickets for just 86 runs. It came in sharp contrast to their batting in the first session of the third day.

Root and Malan had come together after England were in trouble being reduced to 12/2 yesterday, and played a near-perfect hand through the first hour today to steady England gradually. With the pacers not finding enough assistance off the pitch, or in the air, the duo was largely untroubled early in the day.

Gradually as they began to get a move on, particularly with the introduction of Lyon's offspin, there were more half-chances offered. Malan, who had suffered some close shaves earlier, started tentatively against Lyon chipping close to the fielders on a couple of occasions. Root top edged a sweep dangerously close to deep square leg but remained in far better control.

But between these nervous moments, both batters found the boundaries through impeccably timed drives, or even the reverse sweep. It allowed the scoreboard to keep ticking over at a quick rate, getting Malan his sixth Test fifty and second in as many Tests. Root, who survived an LBW review against Neser, brought up his 52nd Test fifty, with minutes to go for the Dinner break leading England's strong reply before Australia came roaring back after.

David Warner and Marcus Harris extended the lead further with a steady opening stand before the former was run out for 13 following a mix-up. Nevertheless, Australia ended the day in complete command, leading overall by 282 runs.