Ashes 2017 | Talking points from Day 2 of Perth Test

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Ashes 2017 | Talking points from Day 2 of Perth Test

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SportsCafe Desk

12/15/2017

England’s middle and lower batting order couldn’t survive Australian bowlers’ onslaught early on Day 2, losing six wickets in 35 runs to end their first innings at 403 after a promising first day. Australia responded well, ending the day at 203/3, with Steve Smith scoring an unbeaten 92 runs.

Brief scores: England 403 (D Malan 140, Bairstow 119; M Starc 4/91, J Hazlewood 3/92) lead Australia 203/3 (S Smith 92*, U Khawaja 50; C Overton 2/46, C Woakes 1/42) by 200 runs. 

England maintain their fatal batting collapse in WACA

Though Australia have dominated every aspect of the game in the series so far, one of the biggest differentiators between the sides has been the Kangaroos’ ability to forge partnerships at crucial stages in the game. Whether it be Steven Smith and Shaun Marsh’s 99-run stand in the first innings at Gabba, when Australia were reduced to 76/4 in 25 overs, or Marsh senior’s unbelievable solo effort at Adelaide, when he took the likes of Peter Handscomb, Tim Paine and Pa Cummins with him to steer Australia from a paltry 161/4 to 442/8, Australia have always found a way to turn the tables.

The three lions, on the other hand, have failed to achieve it on every occasion so far, with the fall of a settled batsman generally ensuing a fatal collapse of the order coming next. They had previously experienced it after Dawid Malan’s dismissal in the first innings at the Gabba and then again during the second innings at the Adelaide Oval, where the Middlesex batsman saw himself as pretty much the last run scorer in the order. 

WACA was no different. After ending Day 1 on a decent score of 305/4 with both Malan (110*) and Jonny Bairstow (75*) perfectly settled at the crease, 500 looked the perfect score for the visitors in a series they are trailing 2-0. However, as soon as Malan was dismissed by Nathan Lyon after adding 63 runs to the scoreboard, he was followed by Moeen Ali, Bairstow, Overton and Broad in the next 35 runs. Consequently, they could muster just 95 runs on the second day after ending the previous day with six wickets and two settled batsmen.

Steven Smith back?

While England looked to have successfully solved the Steven Smith puzzle at the Adelaide, limiting him to just 46 runs in two innings after his flawless innings of 141* setup the win for Australia at Gabba, the WACA saw the skipper emerging above the challenges once again. Coming in at 55/2, when Australia lost two quick wickets in a gap of 11 runs, Smith gave his side the innings they desperately needed.

The typical Steve Smith innings saw the right-hander hitting fourteen boundaries and a six as he ended the day at 91*. By the time of drinks, England had already sensed that their only way for a breakthrough would come from Usman Khawaja’s end as they were not getting Smith by anyway. The magnificent cover drive that brought up his fifty off Chris Woakes’ delivery, reflected the mood he was in today. WACA’s flat pitch that saw the ball coming to bat very comfortably also helped his cause massively.

Bad day for England bowlers?

England bowlers have been far from their best in the series so far with Australia dealing with them very comfortably. And after their batting collapse early in the day, James Anderson and company had to do something special to keep the hosts under pressure. But, their start was plagued with a niggle to Anderson quite early in the game.

Though bringing in Overton and Woakes, soon after, did the trick with the former getting two quick wickets of David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the lack of lateral movements on the WACA strip didn’t help the bowlers in any way whatsoever. To further compound pressure on the bowlers, Joe Root missed an absolute sitter in the slip as Khawaja’s edge was well carried from Woakes’ ball. And at the fag end of the day, wicketkeeper Bairstow missed another to give Smith a lease of life. Smith and Khawaja looked extremely comfortable in putting up the 100-run stand before the left-hander had to return to the pavilion following a dicey call by the third umpire. With the new ball seen off safely, it was hardly a challenge for Australia now as Smith and Shaun Marsh ended the day at 203/3. 

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