Australia claim key wickets in third Ashes Test

Tourists are 180 for four in reply to home team’s first innings total of 385

By (AFP)

Published: Sun 15 Dec 2013, 2:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:01 AM

Australia edged closer to regaining the Ashes on the second day of the third Test against England at the WACA Ground on Saturday.

In reply to the home team’s first innings total of 385, the tourists were 180 for four at stumps on the second day, with Ian Bell on nine (from 62 balls) and Ben Stokes on 14, still trailing by 205 runs.

Australia lead the series 2-0 after wins in Brisbane and Adelaide, and can regain the Ashes with a win in Perth. Although in-form pacemen Mitchell Johnson went wicketless despite generating express pace, all of the other Australian bowlers used took a wicket each as several English batsmen failed to build on promising starts and the effectiveness of the controversial Decision Review System was again called into question.

The home team struck two key blows in the final session of the day, removing England captain Alastair Cook (72) and dangerous batsman Kevin Pietersen (19) in quick succession. England were progressing steadily, if slowly, at 136-2, with Cook, who was dropped on three, grinding his way back into form.

However, the left-hander then inexplicably cut a Nathan Lyon delivery straight to Dave Warner at backward point for a soft dismissal. It was almost identical to the way Warner fell to Graeme Swann in the Australian first innings.

Pietersen was showing unusual caution at the crease and it took him 49 balls to reach double figures. However, Australian quick Peter Siddle continued his dominance over the tall right-hander when he lured him into an ugly pull shot that was well caught by Mitchell Johnson at mid-on.

It was the 10th time Siddle had claimed Pietersen’s wicket in Test cricket, having also dismissed him twice in Adelaide in the second Test, and the manner of his demise again raised eyebrows.

However, England opener Michael Carberry defended Pietersen. “It’s a shot we’ve seen him play many times and hit it out of the ground,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to see him put that shot in the locker.”

Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott said his charges were rewarded late in the day for their discipline. “The guys finished off really well today,” he said.

“Those two wickets in the last session were crucial to our day.

“The last three and a half hours our bowling and fielding was superb.” McDermott said the Australians were looking forward to using the second new ball on the third day and were also excited about bowling last in the match, with some cracks in the pitch already opening up in the extreme heat that is forecast to continue throughout the five days. England got off to a solid start through Carberry (43) and Cook, the pair riding their luck a little as they built their partnership.

They blunted the pace of Johnson, who bowled the three quickest deliveries of the match in succession in one over, and closed in on England’s first century opening partnership in 12 Tests.

Just as that milestone loomed, Ryan Harris achieved the initial breakthrough, when Carberry dragged a ball back onto his stumps as he attempted to withdraw the bat with England on 85. The tourists were soon forced to deal with worse when Joe Root was adjudged caught behind from the bowling of Shane Watson just six runs later and was out for just four runs in the latest DRS controversy.

Earlier, Australia resumed at 326-6 with Smith on 103 and Mitchell Johnson unbeaten on 39 and didn’t add a run before Stuart Broad (3-100) had Johnson caught behind. Jimmy Anderson then snared two wickets, having Smith (111) caught behind off a very feint inside edge after a DRS referral and Ryan Harris (12) caught in the gully. Last-wicket pair Peter Siddle (21) and Nathan Lyon (17 not out) added 31 as the tail wagged in scorching heat at the WACA. Cracks started opening up in the baking conditions at Perth, where temperatures approached 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), and the ball started to move off the seam making it more awkward for the batsmen.

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