James Anderson’s first five-for in 15 Tests in Australia helped set up a last-day thriller in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
Steve Smith will have some explaining to do if England find another 178 runs from the six wickets remaining. Joe Root is the glue holding them together, going to bed on 67, accompanied by Chris Woakes on five. The same Woakes who scored 36 at No 8 in the first innings; to be followed by Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Overton, who scored 41 at No 9 in his last stand.
This match has swung wildly from the moment Smith declined to enforce the follow-on when 215 ahead. He put his men in under lights, when the ball takes on a new persona and by the close of play were four down with 54 on the board. They were to add just 85 in the more comfortable batting conditions on day four, with Anderson reaching a well-deserved milestone at 5-43. That left England a target of 354, a target they have never chased before; their previous best being 332, achieved 90 years ago.
To add to the pressure, Australia have been wasteful with their DRS appeals. In the fourth over Josh Hazlewood rapped Alastair Cook on the pads from around the wicket, but no one felt confident enough to review. It was plumb. Perhaps that played a role in Smith’s eagerness to review later, first when Pat Cummins hit Root on the pad and then when Hazlewood struck Dawid Malan in the next over. In both cases, the ball was shown to be comfortably missing the top of the stumps.
Cook and Mark Stoneman put on 53 for the first wicket, and Root and Malan 78 for the fourth; a stand broken just two overs before the close.
Australia may feel that was the turning point. Root needs to dig in and show them otherwise.
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