England have victory in their sights, as Steven Finn took 5-45 to limit Australia to 168-7 in their second innings and leave them just 23 runs ahead, on day two of the third Test match at Edgbaston.
After being thrashed by 405 runs in the second Test at Lord’s, the English wouldn’t in their wildest dreams have imagined that they could wrap the next match up in two days, but that almost happened, and bar a strong display of resilience from Peter Nevill (37) and Mitchell Starc (7) tomorrow morning, the hosts should feel confident of making it 2-1.
England went into day two trailing by three runs, and while they went into the lead with just three wickets down, Mitchell Johnson proved lethal with the short ball to remove Jonny Bairstow (5) and Ben Stokes (0) in quick succession.
Joe Root went to a well-played fifty, but regular wickets continued to fall as he perished for 63, before Jos Buttler went for 9. Had he reviewed his lbw decision off Nathan Lyon’s bowling however, he would have survived.
Moeen Ali, who has proven a vital batting cog at No 8, put on an 87-run stand with Stuart Broad to give them the push they needed to stay in command. They were eventually bowled out for 281, 145 runs ahead.
James Anderson and Broad, as they did in the first innings, made the most of the seam-friendly pitch, as the latter trapped the usually dependable Chris Rogers for 6. David Warner ignored the game situation and played as he always has done – with attacking freedom. He coasted to fifty off just 35 balls, while the other batsmen failed around him.
It was another Australian collapse, but a different bowler doing the damage. Finn claimed the wickets of Smith and Michael Clarke yet again, before forcing Adam Voges to edge one for a golden duck. There was little resilience as Mitchell Marsh fell, and the full extent of the damage was realised when Warner trudged back for 77.
Finn got his fifth five-wicket haul in Tests with the scalp of Mitchell Johnson, before Nevill and Starc knuckled down, to end the day on 168-7. With a lead of just 23, Australia need to produce a miracle to walk away with anything other than defeat.
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