Chris Rogers and Shane Watson combined in a fifth wicket stand to propel Australia close to England’s first innings total at the end of the second day’s play in the fourth Ashes Test. We’ll have live scores and updates from 8.00pm AEST.
The pair was involved in a 129-run stand for the fifth wicket that has all but sealed an Australian lead going into the third day.
Rogers was unbeaten on his first Test century, by the virtue of which he became the second-oldest maiden century-scorer for Australia while Watson’s 68 had been ended by Stuart Broad less than half hour before play was halted by bad light.
It was a knock of great grit and one that would have made likes of Justin Langer and Steve Waugh proud. Not the prettiest to look at but effective because of the situation it came in.
Before the duo came together, the story looked familiar for Australia.
The bowlers had done well to restrict England to 238 but the batsmen seemed to have floundered another golden chance.
Dave Warner’s promotion to the top of the order did not help as failed to bring his bat down in time to a Stuart Broad delivery. By the time he did, his stumps were rattled by an in-dipper.
Usman Khawaja suffered a similar fate except that he got a bottom-edge to be caught by the keeper. And Michael Clarke played one of his worst strokes so early in the innings, a waft outside the off stump that flew down the first slip’s throat.
Steven Smith hung around enough to see the side through to the first break but when he fell immediately after lunch, Australia were 4/76 and staring at the wrong end.
And it wasn’t as if Rogers was playing very freely at the other end.
He had had an lbw shout go his way after the ball pitched marginally outside the leg-stump and then another one overturned after the third umpire ruled he wasn’t hitting it through to the keeper.
Later he was also dropped and he rode his luck to make a century.
Watson was spilled by Tim Bresnan early in his innings but with the ball ceasing to jag around in the third session as much as it in the first couple, batting became much easier.
Much like the first day, run-scoring wasn’t the easiest on the second either. While Australia are only 16 behind England with half their side remaining, there’s an obvious issue of the lurking new ball coupled with Broad’s bowling form that they face.
That aside, the Australian lower-order batting strength has been considerably weakened by the absence of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ashton Agar, all of whom are missing from this match.
What that means that if the visitors want to take and then extend their lead into the realms of triple-figures, it will be the current pair of Rogers and Haddin who will need to bat on for at least a session.
From England’s perspective, an early wicket will be a necessity. That said, the sense is that Haddin will be a more important scalp than Rogers given the way the keeper bats.
A quick-fire 30-40 like he has shown in a couple of innings this series, could take the game away from England, something that Rogers may not possibly be able to do. Of course, with a century behind his back, he could feel confident enough to take on the bowling.
Later when they bat, England will look to take cue from Rogers – he played with his bat very close to his pads and with a short back-lift.
A fascinating day’s play lies ahead on the third and this could well decide where the Test is headed.
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