Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Root’s England roar back in Ashes thriller

AFP, ADELAIDE, Australia

England captain Joe Root plays a shot against Australia on the fourth day of the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval in Australia yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Skipper Joe Root yesterday led a spirited England fightback to frustrate Australia and raise hopes of a miracle victory in the gripping second Ashes Test in Adelaide, Australia.

After three days of dominance by Australia, Root took up the challenge of a record run chase with a fighting unbeaten half-century as the momentum began to shift toward England, roared on by their bellowing Barmy Army supporters.

In contrast, his counterpart Steve Smith, who attracted criticism for not enforcing the follow-on despite a 215-run first-innings lead, burned two reviews in the space of three balls and put down a tough catch.

At the close of an absorbing fourth day in the first day-night Ashes Test, England were 176-4 with Root unconquered on 67 and nightwatchman Chris Woakes 5 not out — 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand heading into the final day.

The highest winning fourth innings at the Adelaide Oval is 315-6 by Australia against England in 1902.

“A win would be huge for us, both in terms of what it would do for our confidence as a team and we would be all square in the series,” England paceman James Anderson said. “It would also have a potential effect on them, for a team to be in such a commanding position to then lose that. It’s very rare that a team declares and loses a game, so if we can get a result tomorrow it would be huge for a number of reasons.”

Root had a leg-before-wicket decision on 32 off Nathan Lyon overturned on review, with the Hawk-Eye tracker indicating the ball would have gone over the stumps.

Australia then lost their second and final review in the 43rd over when Dawid Malan survived an leg-before challenge on 3 off Josh Hazlewood, with the ball again tracked as going over the stumps.

Adding to Smith’s anxiety, he also dropped Malan on 8 in a sharp one-handed attempted catch at slip off Lyon.

“We’re still reasonably confident,” Australia bowling coach David Saker told reporters. “Obviously, the last two days haven’t gone to plan... we’re still in front of the game but it’s getting closer and closer, and Joe’s innings has made that possible, but if we can get his wicket in the morning, I think the game changes quite quickly.”

Australia were knocked over for 138 off 58 overs at tea, with England’s all-time leading wicket-taker Anderson taking 5-43 — his first five-wicket haul in Australia — while fellow paceman Woakes captured 4-36.

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