|Second Ashes Test, Adelaide Oval (day four of five)|
|Australia 442-8d & 138: Anderson 5-43, Woakes 4-36|
|England 227 & 176-4: Root 67*|
|England need 178 more runs to win|
England’s fightback in the second Test suffered a huge blow at the end of a compelling fourth day in Adelaide.
Dawid Malan was bowled for 29 by Pat Cummins to leave the visitors 176-4 in their chase of 354.
That they are even that close is thanks in part to some fine lower-order batting in their first innings and an outstanding bowling display in Australia’s second innings that continued in Tuesday’s first session.
Australia, reduced to 53-4 overnight, were bowled out for 138, with James Anderson claiming his first five-wicket haul in this country.
He was backed up by Chris Woakes’ 4-36 and some excellent catching as no home batsman managed to pass 20.
The tourists’ momentum continued to build as an opening stand of 53 between Mark Stoneman and Alastair Cook brought Australian frustration and English optimism.
But both men fell tamely and James Vince played an awful stroke, leaving Joe Root and Malan to battle through an incredibly dramatic period under the lights.
Root successfully overturned being given out lbw to Nathan Lyon and was dropped by Cameron Bancroft, while both men survived Australia reviews in the space of three deliveries.
Though Malan fell 10 minutes before the close, captain Root remains on a hard-fought 67 and his continued presence gives England a small chance of pulling off something remarkable.
Still, it is more likely that Australia will complete victory on the fifth day, go 2-0 up and move to Perth knowing that the Ashes can be regained at the Waca.
England making up for lost time
England ended their 10-wicket defeat in the first Test in Brisbane with the frustration of having competed strongly for three and a half days, only to ultimately be well beaten.
Here, they gave Australia a two-and-a-half-day head-start that made the incredible tension of the fourth evening so unlikely midway through Monday.
A poor first-day display with the ball after asking Australia to bat ultimately allowed the tourists to rack up 442-8 declared, before the tourists needed Craig Overton and Chris Woakes to drag them from 142-7 to 227 all out.
Better batting and bowling in the first innings could have made their eventual target more manageable, rather than an attempt their highest ever runchase and the 10th largest of all-time.
Still, that takes nothing away from their efforts on an entertaining, competitive fourth day, where the total crowd ticked over to 173,849, a record for this ground.
Whereas Monday evening’s effort was swinging the pink ball around under the lights, on Tuesday England mainly nipped it around off the pitch in warm sunshine.
A slip catch by Malan and, in particular, a fine diving hold in the deep by Overton were further examples of England’s extra vigour in the second half of the game.
Stoneman’s strokeplay got England off to a fast start and, after Australia chipped away, the night-time examination of Root and Malan by the home pacemen was gripping drama in front of some raucous travelling support.
As they increasingly found ways to score, they seemed set to make it to the close, only for Cummins to intervene.
|Highest successful Test run chases at the Adelaide Oval|
|315-6: Australia v England, 1902||187-7: Australia v New Zealand, 2015|
|239-5: West Indies v Australia, 1982||182-3: Australia v West Indies, 2005|
|233-6: India v Australia, 2003||172-0: Australia v West Indies, 1930|
|233-4: West Indies v Australia, 1951||168-4: Australia v England, 2006|
Anderson leads the way
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, had never before managed more than four wickets in an innings in 14 previous matches in Australia.
He was culpable of bowling too short in Australia’s first innings, but roared in on the third evening and followed it up when the fourth day began.
In all, Anderson bowled 22 of the 29 overs to be delivered from the Cathedral End, his fuller length on Tuesday ensuring the edge of the bat was always at risk of when the ball moved.
Nightwatchman Lyon had been softened up by a Stuart Broad bouncer to the grille before he backed off and chipped Anderson to mid-off.
Peter Handscomb, footwork all at sea, was given a torrid time by Anderson until he poked to third slip, where Malan took a very smart catch diving to his right.
England were held up by Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh in the first innings, but Woakes got Paine to top-edge a pull and Overton, diving full stretch at long leg, clung on before the ball hit the turf.
Mitchell Starc chanced his arm to push the lead to 350, but after Marsh played across the line to a Woakes inswinger, Starc lobbed Anderson to mid-off to complete the Lancashire man’s five-wicket haul.
Overton bowled only one over in the session, but had last man Josh Hazlewood caught at gully as England took six wickets before the first interval.
England battle hit by cruel blow
When England began their chase, Stoneman immediately took it to the Australia pacemen, sweetly clipping the ball through mid-wicket.
As he and Cook put on their biggest opening stand of the series, home captain Steve Smith was visibly frustrated, not helped when he opted against reviewing a Hazlewood lbw shout against Cook that would have sent the former skipper on his way for 1.
Cook played across a Lyon off-break to be leg before on review, Stoneman tamely patted Cummins to gully for 36 and Vince played an awful drive at Starc to be caught behind.
At 91-3, England were in danger of being all but beaten by the close.
Captain Root, though, was joined by the increasingly impressive Malan and, through a combination of luck, unsuccessful reviews, bravery and no little skill, they kept Australia at bay.
Root was given out lbw on 32 when he shouldered arms at Lyon, but the review system showed it to be too high.
In a torrid Cummins over, Root almost played on and survived when Smith wanted a second look at a caught behind decision, only to learn the ball flicked his opposite number’s thigh pad.
Two balls later, Smith called for a failed lbw review against Malan off Hazlewood and the home captain’s poor evening got worse when he dropped the left-hander on eight when Lyon found the edge.
This came a day after he opted against enforcing the follow-on and saw his batsmen buckle in helpful bowling conditions.
Runs began to trickle, Root in particular pushing the score along square of the wicket, all while the Barmy Army sang and taunted the home side about their lost reviews.
Cummins, though, had the final say, seaming one between Malan’s bat and pad to take the top off stump and end the partnership at 78.