Australia moved into a comfortable position at the end of the second day of the fifth Ashes Test match against England, and it should be comfortable enough to carve out their fifth successive win in this series. We’ll have live scores and updates from 10.30am AEDT.
England’s batting story was on expected lines. There were a few, minor twists from what we have seen in the series so far but none of them were grave enough to save them from what seems like a sure-shot shelling.
Resuming at 1/8, it took Australia just two balls to send back their captain Alastair Cook and it was to another of those excellent deliveries from Ryan Harris. That was the seventh time in his career that Harris dismissed him and the mode of his dismissal spoke volumes about how badly things have gone wrong for Cook and his team.
Attempting to leave one outside the off-stump, Cook was rapped on his pads and the umpire had no difficulty giving him out.
2/8 soon became 5/23 when Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell also joined their captain back in the pavillion and the writing was on the wall.
Ben Stokes, who had scored a century in Perth and followed it up with a six-wicket haul in the first innings in Sydney, was their sole saving grace, as he crept close to another half-century before being bowled by Peter Siddle.
His batting was as close as it could get to the way one needed to bat on this pitch – the good deliveries were defended and the relatively, not-so-good ones were taken advantage of, either with the batsman rotating the strike or crashing through the in-field.
Stuart Broad’s fighting 30 came off 22 balls and it was his batting with the last man Boyd Rankin that took England over the follow-on mark. Still, Australia came away with a 171-run lead, a huge one given the conditions.
Australia were always going to come out attacking in their second innings and they did not deviate from that brand of cricket.
Four wickets were lost in the process of doing that but Chris Rogers followed up his century in Melbourne with an unbeaten 73 and pulled the side out of trouble – much like in the first innings, they had lost four wickets for 91 when George Bailey came in.
Bailey may not be a certainty in the playing 11 for the South Africa Tests even if he scored a century here but if he can get there on the third day, it will enhance his chances a great deal.
The pitch, incidentally, isn’t the best to bat on, and the extra bounce and the sometimes difference in pace could be a cause for a lot of heartache for the batsmen come the third day.
This is why, armed with a lead of 311 already, Australia are well and truly on top at this stage. Even if they are subjected to another of those collapses this series has seen, a target of 400 does not look too far.
Given England have topped 300 only two times out of nine and have been bowled out for sub-200 scores on five separate occasions, we all know which way this would be headed come the fourth innings.
A 5-0 whitewash beckons, just a matter of when.
Join me for the third day of the fifth Ashes 2013-14 Test on Saturday and you can follow the live score of this game from 10.00 am AEDT and post your comments below.