The Ashes 2021/22, third Test: England on the mats at the MCG

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Mon, 27/12/2021
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The fast bowling unit, led by James Anderson, helped England gain some advantage as they bowled for Australia for 267. But Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland took two wickets each at the fag end of Day 2 to leave England reeling at 31/4 at stumps. England still need to score another 51 runs – just to make Australia bat again – with Joe Root and Ben Stokes on the crease.

Starc found himself on a cusp of a hat-trick, having Zak Crawley caught behind and Dawid Malan leg-before with consecutive deliveries in the fifth over. The hat-trick ball then beat Root on sheer pace. At the other end, Cummins bowled devastatingly, and nearly had Haseeb Hameed in his third over, but the ball just missed leg stump. Boland then got Hameed in his first over. A ball later, he sent the nightwatch Jack Leach back to the pavilion. 

Earlier, the English pacers stopped Australia from posting a mammoth first-innings total. They took three wickets in the morning session. Ollie Robinson had night-watch Nathan Lyon caught behind early in the day. Mark Wood then induced an edge off Marnus Labuschagne that Root caught at slip, while Steven Smith got bowled by Anderson.

Leach and Wood were a bit wayward as the first two overs after lunch went for 16. Harris then reached his first half-century in almost three years, scoring a gritty 76 before being undone by Anderson.

Starc (24) and Cummins (21) chipped in vital contributions to take Australia to 267. Anderson claimed four wickets, while Wood and Robinson took two each.

Brief scores: England 185 (Joe Root 50; Pat Cummins 3-36) and 31/4 (Joe Root 12*; Scott Boland 2-1) trail Australia 267 (Marcus Harris 76; James Anderson 4-33) by 51 runs.