Ashes, 2nd Test: Australia set a daunting 468-run target for England

Australia declared its second innings at 230/9 on day four in the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. With the declaration, the hosts have set a daunting 468-run target for England with 4.5 sessions left in the match.

Resuming from 134/4 at dinner break, Travis Head began by smashing past Chris Woakes for four and then pulled for two through mid-wicket to bring up a half-century at his home ground. But in the next over, Head went for a pull against Ollie Robinson, only for a brilliant diving effort from Ben Stokes at deep mid-wicket to send the left-hander back to the pavilion.

Marnus Labuschagne continued to march as Australia’s lead swelled beyond 400. He reached his half-century with a single through square leg off Robinson for the second time in the match. But in the next over, Labuschagne fell as he slog-swept straight to deep mid-wicket off Dawid Malan.

Joe Root’s arm ball was chopped on the stumps by Alex Carey. Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson slammed a six each but when the duo got out in successive overs, Australia declared their innings for the second time in the match, ending England’s agony on the field.

Earlier, in an action-packed first session, England had bossed the first half while Australia took charge in the second hour. Resuming from overnight score of 54/1, nightwatchman Michael Neser was nearly run out on the first ball of the day. In the next over, Neser was bowled through the gate by James Anderson getting one to jag back in.

England got their second wicket in just three balls as Stuart Broad extracted a thick outside edge from Marcus Harris’ bat and keeper Jos Buttler took a flying one-handed screamer of a catch to his left. Broad almost had Steve Smith dismissed for a golden duck if not for Buttler dropping the catch to his right.

On the very next ball, Broad rapped Smith on the pads, which was adjudged not out by umpire Rod Tucker. England took the DRS but replays showed Smith survived due to impact as umpire’s call. But the Australia captain couldn’t make the most out of twin lives as he gloved behind to a diving Buttler off Robinson.

But Head and Labuschagne stitched a counter-attacking partnership of 79 runs off 93 balls for the fifth wicket to ensure Australia didn’t lose any other wicket in a see-saw session. Head was the more aggressive of the two, striking boundaries while Labuschagne took his time to get going.

Root didn’t take the field at the start due to an abdomen injury sustained during practice session. Root went for a scan and then came back on the field from 36th over. It also resulted in Robinson switching from right-arm pace to off-spin for three overs, highlighting the absence of a specialist spinner in England’s line-up.

Brief Scores: Australia 473/9 dec in 150.4 overs and 230/9 dec in 61 overs (Travis Head 51, Marnus Labuschagne 51′ Joe Root 2/27, Dawid Malan 2/33) vs England 236 all out in 84.1 overs (Dawid Malan 80, Mitchell Starc 4/37).




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