Ashes 2021-22: Australia six wickets away from winning second Test

By Sports Desk December 19, 2021

England captain Joe Root fell to the last ball of day four to leave Australia needing just six wickets to win the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.

After some early promise with the ball, the tourists allowed Australia to add another 185 runs to their overnight score of 45-1, before losing four wickets in their chase of 468.

James Anderson bowled nightwatchman Michael Neser (3) in the second over of day, before Marcus Harris was impressively caught behind for 23 off the bowling of Stuart Broad.

Jos Buttler put down a chance to dismiss Steve Smith on the next ball, though made amends with another tremendous left-handed catch to dismiss Australia's stand-in captain, leaving the hosts 55-4.

However, a solid partnership of 89 from Marnus Labuschagne (51) and Travis Head (51) was followed up by contributions from Cameron Green (33 not out) and Mitchell Starc (19), before Smith declared on 230-9, setting England a huge target of 268.

Haseeb Hameed continued the trend of early England wickets falling as he edged Jhye Richardson for a duck, and though Rory Burns (34) and Dawid Malan (20) looked like they might build a good partnership, both fell shortly after reprieves.

Root and Ben Stokes (3 not out) tried to see out the rest of the final session only for the former to edge Starc to Alex Carey on 24 in what proved to be the last ball of the day, leaving England on 82-4 and Australia on the brink of a 2-0 lead in the series.

A sore day for Root down under

It was a painful day for England skipper Root in more ways than one, starting it off the field after being hit in the groin during throwdowns in the warm-up, before being hit in a similar area again by Starc just before being removed by the same man before the close of play.

One slight positive was his knock of 24 ensured that he overtook Sir Alastair Cook (4,844) to become England's top run scorer as Test captain, though it may not seem like something worth celebrating with his team staring down the barrel of another humbling Ashes defeat.

England fail to make second chances count

The tourists have not played well in Australia so far, but have also had their fair share of bad luck with dropped catches and multiple wickets taken off no balls, but they were their own worst enemies on the rare occasions things went their way.

Smith inexplicably dropped Malan on 19 off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, but he added just one more run before being out loge before wicket first ball of the next over to Neser.

Burns was then given out caught behind but successfully reviewed after replays showed the ball clipping his hip and missing the bat, but he too failed to take advantage of the second chance as he added just four more runs before edging Richardson to Smith.

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