Australia chasing 4-0 lead in Ashes series

Published: Sunday | December 29, 2013 Comments 0
England's Stuart Broad (centre) is caught by Australia's captain Michael Clarke (right) off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon during their Ashes cricket Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia yesterday. - AP
England's Stuart Broad (centre) is caught by Australia's captain Michael Clarke (right) off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon during their Ashes cricket Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia yesterday. - AP

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):

Australia boosted their chances of winning a fourth-straight Test over England after a strong bowling display on day three yesterday, with the hosts requiring a further 201 runs in the final innings with all 10 wickets in hand.

Nathan Lyon (5-50) took five wickets as Australia bowled England out for 179 in their second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"That's the first time (taking five wickets) in Australia so it was something pretty special and something I won't forget that's for sure, and to have my family here, it's something pretty special as well," Lyon said.

Chasing 231 for victory, Chris Rogers scored 18 and David Warner 12 as Australia moved to 30-0 at stumps.

England's hopes of victory gradually ebbed away during the course of Saturday's play, but wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow said his side remained "very confident" of their ability to claim a first win of the series.

"We've got people. Our side that have shown over a number of years the skills that are needed tomorrow to win us this game of cricket," he said. "We're still 200 runs in front."

Australia had started the day at 164-9 in its first innings and added 40 runs for the last wicket, with Brad Haddin continuing his fine form with 63 runs off 68 balls while Lyon hit an unbeaten 18 as the home side was bowled out for 204.

Batting at No. 7, Haddin has been by far Australia's most consistent batsman this series, producing innings of 94 and 53 in the first Test, 118 in the second and 55 and five in the Ashes-clinching third Test at Perth.

He was eventually caught behind off Jimmy Anderson (4-67), who had his most productive innings in an otherwise disappointing series.

England captain Alastair Cook got his team off to a strong start in its second innings but Mitchell Johnson again proved to be a thorn in the visitors' side as they lost three wickets for one run in the second session.

It got worse after the tea break, as England's tail folded meekly, losing five wickets for six runs to relinquish its advantage and give Australia a second chance to take control of the match.

Exciting challenge

"It was disappointing and the mood is looking forward to tomorrow," Bairstow said. "I guess it's an exciting challenge knowing we've got to go out and take 10 wickets.

"We also know that we bowled them out for less in the first innings."

Cook top-scored with 51 off only 64 balls - passing 8,000 Test runs in the process - before being trapped lbw to Johnson's reverse swing, and the top order then crumbled.

Michael Carberry was out lbw to Peter Siddle after an exceedingly cautious 12, then in the next over Johnson added a run out to his 31 wickets this series, gathering and firing in a direct hit from mid-off with Joe Root (15) well out of his crease.

Ian Bell was out for a duck two balls later when he popped up a Lyon delivery to Johnson at mid-off, as England spiralled from 65-0 to be 87-4.

Lyon was not surprised by the manner and frequency of the dismissals.

"It's been the trend the whole game," he said. "On Australia's part, we were disappointed with the patience from our batters and probably the lack of intent to score. ... Fingers crossed we can turn it around in the second dig and put a big show on here, and hopefully play out another victory for Australia"

Steadied England

Kevin Pietersen and Ben Stokes temporarily steadied England, but Stokes went for 19 shortly after tea, scooping a Lyon ball to Steven Smith at mid-off, and that triggered a hasty capitulation.

Johnson tempted Bairstow to fish well outside off stump and he was caught behind for 21, exposing the tailenders.

Lyon brought up his 100th Test wicket three overs later when he bowled Tim Bresnan without scoring and had Stuart Broad caught for a duck by Michael Clarke at slip two balls later.

Pietersen refused to be intimidated by the effective Australia attack, hitting six boundaries in a defiant knock of 49 before becoming Lyon's fifth wicket when he lofted the ball to Ryan Harris at long-off.

Johnson had Monty Panesar lbw for a duck to end the innings.

Tempers frayed in the late afternoon blustery conditions as Johnson and Pietersen were involved in a verbal confrontation. The Australian spearhead was upset by Pietersen backing away from his stance when Johnson had completed almost all his run-up, and he threw the ball towards the batsman's end in frustration.

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