|Second Ashes Test, Adelaide Oval (day four of five)|
|Australia 442-8d & 138: Anderson 5-43, Woakes 4-36|
|England 227 & 176-4: Root 67*|
|England need 178 more runs to win|
Captain Joe Root made an unbeaten 67 to keep England in with a slim chance of a remarkable win in the second Ashes Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Root, who overturned being given out lbw and was also dropped, took his side to 176-4 in their chase of 354.
In a thrilling and dramatic evening session, he received support from Dawid Malan, who was bowled by Pat Cummins 10 minutes before the close.
That England are still in the contest is not only down to their fourth-wicket pair, but also to some fine lower-order batting in their first innings and an outstanding bowling display in Australia’s second innings that continued in Tuesday’s first session.
Australia, reduced to 53-4 overnight, were bowled out for 138, with James Anderson claiming his first five-wicket haul in this country.
He was backed up by Chris Woakes’ 4-36 and some excellent catching as no home batsman managed to pass 20.
The tourists’ momentum continued to build as an opening stand of 53 between Mark Stoneman and Alastair Cook brought Australian frustration and English optimism.
But both men fell tamely and James Vince played an awful stroke, leaving Root and Malan to battle through an intense period under the lights.
Root’s continued presence gives England a small chance of pulling off a historic victory on what could be a thrilling final day.
Still, it is more likely that Australia will complete victory on Wednesday, go 2-0 up and move to Perth knowing that the Ashes can be regained at the Waca.
England making up for lost time
England ended their 10-wicket defeat in the first Test in Brisbane with the frustration of having competed strongly for three and a half days, only to ultimately be well beaten.
Here, they gave Australia a two-and-a-half-day head-start that made the incredible tension of the fourth evening so unlikely midway through Monday.
A poor first-day display with the ball after asking Australia to bat ultimately allowed the tourists to rack up 442-8 declared, before the tourists needed Craig Overton and Chris Woakes to drag them from 142-7 to 227 all out.
Better batting and bowling in the first innings could have made their eventual target more manageable, rather than leave an attempt at their highest ever run chase and the 10th largest of all-time.
Still, that takes nothing away from their efforts on an entertaining, competitive fourth day, where the total crowd ticked over to 173,849, a record for this ground.
Whereas Monday evening’s effort involved swinging the pink ball around under the lights, on Tuesday England mainly nipped it around off the pitch in warm sunshine.
A slip catch by Malan and, in particular, a fine diving hold in the deep by Overton were further examples of England’s extra vigour in the second half of the game.
Stoneman’s strokeplay got England off to a fast start and, after Australia chipped away, the night-time examination of Root and Malan by the home pacemen was gripping drama in front of some raucous travelling support.
As they increasingly found ways to score, they seemed set to make it to the close, only for Cummins to intervene.
|Highest successful Test run chases at the Adelaide Oval|
|315-6: Australia v England, 1902||187-7: Australia v New Zealand, 2015|
|239-5: West Indies v Australia, 1982||182-3: Australia v West Indies, 2005|
|233-6: India v Australia, 2003||172-0: Australia v West Indies, 1930|
|233-4: West Indies v Australia, 1951||168-4: Australia v England, 2006|
Anderson leads the way
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, had never before managed more than four wickets in an innings in 14 previous matches in Australia.
He was culpable of bowling too short in Australia’s first innings, but roared in on the third evening and followed it up when the fourth day began.
In all, Anderson bowled 22 of the 29 overs delivered from the Cathedral End, his fuller length on Tuesday ensuring the edge of the bat was always at risk when the ball moved.
Nightwatchman Lyon had been softened up by a Stuart Broad bouncer to the grille before he backed off and chipped Anderson to mid-off.
Peter Handscomb, footwork all at sea, was given a torrid time by Anderson until he poked to third slip, where Malan took a very smart catch diving to his right.
England were held up by Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh in the first innings, but Woakes got Paine to top-edge a pull and Overton, diving full stretch at long leg, clung on before the ball hit the turf.
Mitchell Starc chanced his arm to push the lead to 350, but after Marsh played across the line to a Woakes inswinger, Starc lobbed Anderson to mid-off to complete the Lancashire man’s five-wicket haul.
Overton bowled only one over in the session, but had last man Josh Hazlewood caught at gully as England took six wickets before the first interval.
England battle hit by cruel blow
When England began their chase, Stoneman immediately took it to the Australia pacemen, sweetly clipping the ball through mid-wicket.
As he and Cook put on their biggest opening stand of the series, home captain Steve Smith was visibly frustrated, not helped when he opted against reviewing a Hazlewood lbw shout against Cook that would have sent the former skipper on his way for one.
But Cook played across a Lyon off-break to be leg before on review, Stoneman tamely patted Cummins to gully for 36 and Vince played an awful drive at Starc to be caught behind.
At 91-3, England were in danger of being all but beaten by the close.
Captain Root, though, was joined by the increasingly impressive Malan and, through a combination of luck, unsuccessful reviews, bravery and no little skill, they kept Australia at bay.
Root was given out lbw on 32 when he shouldered arms at Lyon, but the review system showed it to be too high.
In a torrid Cummins over, Root almost played on and survived when Smith wanted a second look at a caught behind decision, only to learn the ball flicked his opposite number’s thigh pad.
Two balls later, Smith called for a failed lbw review against Malan off Hazlewood and the home captain’s poor evening got worse when he dropped the left-hander on eight at slip when Lyon found the edge.
This came a day after he opted against enforcing the follow-on and saw his batsmen buckle in helpful bowling conditions.
Runs began to trickle, Root in particular pushing the score along square of the wicket, all while the Barmy Army sang and taunted the home side about their lost reviews.
Cummins, though, had the final say, seaming one between Malan’s bat and pad to take the top off stump and end the partnership at 78.
Test Match Special analysis
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “My money is still with Australia just because of the history. What England have done is given themselves a sniff. They have given everyone hope.
“There is a real air of positivity because of the way they have come back. Smith has to be thinking about 24 hours ago when he didn’t enforce the follow-on. If he had the game would have been done and dusted.”
Former England spinner Phil Tufnell: “What an amazing Test. It was just an amazing day – really good for England. They’ve somehow manufactured a chance. It’s been enthralling, every ball. I’ve been down walking around the ground – everyone is on the edge of their seats lapping up the tension.”
‘We are in a fantastic position’ – what they said
James Anderson on Test Match Special: “It is pretty even. We definitely would have taken this position after the first two or three days. We have fought really hard to get back in the game.
“We followed on from last night really well as a group and fought really hard with the bat. We spoke about not doing ourselves justice with the bat in the first innings but we have shown what can do.
“We are a good amount of runs short but are in a fantastic position. We have got batters in the shed to get us close.”