Australia have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in the Ashes series. The hosts registered a comprehensive 275-run win in the day-night test match in Adelaide. After losing an early wicket, Australia sent England on a leather hunt. Warner (93), Labuschagne (103) and Smith (95) all came good. The lower order stood up to be counted too. Alex Carey (51), Mitchell Starc (39 not out), and Michael Neser (35) boosted the Australian score.
England Collapse after Malan, Root Stand
After stand-in skipper Steve Smith declared the innings at 473/9, England finished day two on 17/2. Malan and Root took the score to 150/2, midway through day 3. England found themselves in trouble again, at 169 for 6. Barring Ben Stokes (34) and Chris Woakes (24), none of the lower order resisted for long. Australia bowled out for 236, gaining a huge lead of 239 runs. Starc was the best Australian bowler on display, taking four wickets.
Australia Set a Daunting Target
Smith chose not to enforce the follow on. Australia finished day three at 45 for 1. On the fourth morning, the England bowlers dismissed Neser, Harris, and Smith, reducing the hosts to 55 for 4. Once again, Labuschagne came to Australia’s rescue. He added 89 in the company of Harris, with both men making identical scores of 51. Cameron Green (33) and Mitchell Starc (19) ensured that Australia got to 230/9 declared. Chasing an improbable target of 468 to win, England finished day four at 82/4.
Buttler Plays a Lone Hand
On day 5, Ollie Pope lost his wicket within the first 15 minutes of play. About an hour later, Stokes departed, leaving England on the verge of defeat, with nearly five hours to go.
That was the cue for Buttler and Woakes to get together in a 61-run stand, consuming about 32 overs in the process. At the drinks interval, England were 166/7 in 90 overs. They had weathered half the overs while losing three wickets in the bargain. Buttler was still at the crease, with Robinson for company. The pair hung on gamely for 12 more overs.
Rare Hit Wicket Dismissal Ends Buttler Marathon
However, just as England appeared set to go in to tea with three wickets intact, Robinson lost his wicket. At tea, England were 180/8, with Buttler on 25 and Broad yet to score. They had lasted two sessions, losing just four wickets in the process. Most importantly, Buttler was frustrating the Australian bowlers with the slowest innings of his career. But two overs into the last session, the dream was shattered when Buttler was unfortunately out, hit wicket. Jhye Richardson was named Man of the Match for his five-wicket haul.
England’s Woes Begin at the Top of the Batting Order
So far, batting quality has been the difference between the teams. Barring their opener Marcus Harris, Australia’s batters have largely delivered. England have not had a consistent opening batter since Alastair Cook quit test cricket in 2018. While England’s bowlers have done better, their impact would have been greater had the batters delivered. Unless the England batting improves drastically, we don’t expect to see a different result in the remaining tests.
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