The Ashes: England collapse to go 2-0 down
PUBLISHED: 08:07 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 08:07 06 December 2017
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England folded quickly in pursuit of a national-record chase as Australia took six wickets in under a session to go 2-0 up in the Ashes with a 120-run victory.
The hosts had appeared a little rattled for much of the penultimate day in this second Test, while England captain Joe Root was sustaining England’s unlikely fightback with a determined half-century.
But Steve Smith’s men were right back on their game as the Adelaide Oval sunshine came out to play at last on the final afternoon and Josh Hazlewood wasted no time with the instant wickets of nightwatchman Chris Woakes and Root himself in successive overs before Mitchell Starc (5-88) turned the screw.
After that, despite the best efforts of Jonny Bairstow, the rest was just details as England were all out for 233 after being set 354 to level the series.
The tourists had done enough over the preceding day-and-a-half to give their supporters hope, even vaguely realistic hope.
But on the resumption, from 176-4, they simply could not have got off to a worse start.
The Barmy Army was still singing Jerusalem, as is its wont before the second ball of each day, when Woakes got the thinnest of edges behind to a very good delivery.
Contact was so faint, in fact, that Aleem Dar’s decision was upheld after Woakes went to DRS only on the basis of a Snicko spike and in the absence of any corroboration at all from Hotspot technology.
In Hazlewood’s next over, Root did not hang around to query Dar’s ruling of another caught-behind – departing like Woakes without addition to his overnight score.
Both had succumbed to significant movement off the pitch, not previously evident in this match, and Hazlewood kept getting the ball to dart around against new batsmen Moeen Ali and Bairstow too.
It was Moeen’s off-spinning opposite number Nathan Lyon who would account for him, though, for the second time in the match and fourth out of four in the series.
In the first innings, Lyon had pulled off a crowd-pleasing caught-and-bowled from a tame chip back too close to him; second time round, Moeen missed a sweep and had to go lbw after chancing his team’s second review in vain.
England had therefore lost four wickets for 19 runs, dating back to Dawid Malan’s dismissal late on Tuesday night.
Debutant Craig Overton had helped to kickstart the revival with some fine tailend resistance in the first innings, but was dealt an even tougher hand for his second Test innings.
He survived on five when Cameron Bancroft could not hold a very sharp chance off Pat Cummins, wearing a helmet at an advanced third slip, but got little further before Starc pinned him lbw in the crease at his first attempt with the second new ball.
For the record, Starc bagged Stuart Broad caught behind and Bairstow, last out chopping on to his former Yorkshire team-mate.
England therefore knew for sure the urn will be on the line again when they rejoin battle at one of their unhappiest hunting grounds in Perth next week.