Saturday, 28 December 2013 09:35
Johnson claims five wickets as England post modest 255
Pietersen top scores for tourists with 71
Australia trail by 91 runs with one wicket remaining
MELBOURNE, 27 December (Reuters): A resurgent England attack tore through Australia’s batting lineup with six wickets in the final session to leave the hosts reeling at 164 for nine at the close of the second day of the fourth Ashes test on Friday.
Bowled out for what seemed a paltry 255 in the morning, the tourists hit back through their seamers in the afternoon with Stuart Broad and James Anderson capturing three wickets apiece.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, fighting another desperate rearguard action, was 43 not out at stumps, with number 11 batsman Nathan Lyon yet to face a ball and Australia trailing by 91 runs.
Having restricted the hosts to 96-3 at tea with bowling of the highest discipline, England’s seamers turned the screws in the final session in bright sunshine and in front of a mostly stunned crowd of over 78,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
After hanging around for 95 minutes and 77 balls for his 19 runs, Steven Smith was the first to succumb when he flashed a frustrated cut shot that sent an edge flying to Ian Bell at second slip.
The wicket broke a 48-run partnership and sparked a collapse as Rogers promptly threw away his wicket for 61 after nearly four hours of painstaking graft.
The 36-year-old had shown great poise, raising his third half-century of the series shortly before tea after being struck in the helmet by a Stuart Broad delivery that left him bleeding from his temple.
But his attempted slog over mid-on off Bresnan found only Kevin Pietersen charging to his right and smacked of pressure.
One-day specialist George Bailey never appeared comfortable in the role of rescuer and followed soon after, caught behind by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off Anderson for a 19-ball duck.
Umpire Aleem Dar turned down the appeal, but the ‘snicko’ technology suggested a faint noise which was good enough for third umpire Billy Bowden to award the wicket, prompting indignant jeers from the crowd.
That left Australia teetering on 122-6, but Haddin ignored the scoreboard, blasting a six off Stokes over long-on and two fours in an over off Anderson. Anderson let his captain and Bresnan down twice with two dropped catches, a tough chance reprieving Smith on seven before tea and a much simpler one saving Johnson an hour before stumps.
He made amends shortly after by taking a sharp chance to remove Johnson at midwicket for two and hand Bresnan his second wicket.
Ryan Harris lasted 27 balls for his six runs before fending off a rising delivery from Broad to Joe Root at short leg.
Peter Siddle spooned to Bresnan at cover to be out for a duck off Broad, the wicket prompting the close.
Australia captain Clarke’s poor record against England continued when he was bowled for 10 after not playing at a swinging Anderson delivery after lunch.
Anderson also removed dangerous opener David Warner for nine before all-rounder Ben Stokes dismissed number three Shane Watson for 10 shortly before lunch.
Johnson continued the scintillating form that has helped the hosts carve an unassailable 3-0 series lead, captured 5-63, his new ball spell reaping a devastating 5-18 in nine overs to bowl the tourists out in the first hour of the morning.
The left-arm paceman struck with his first ball of the morning to remove Bresnan for one, caught by a scrambling George Bailey at square leg, then bowled Pietersen for 71 four balls later.
Broad was trapped in front by the 32-year-old Johnson for 11, the dismissal almost an exact repeat of the one in third Test in Perth that injured the Englishman’s foot. Lyon captured his sole wicket for the innings by bowling Monty Panesar for two when the spinner failed to offer a shot, leaving Anderson stranded on 11 not out and bringing England’s innings to a close.
Man of the match in the first two tests, Johnson now has 10 five-wicket hauls in tests, with five coming against England and three in this series.
The final match of the five-test series starts in Sydney on 3 January.