Published on December 6th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari0
Australia’s silent assassin
The stage for a thrilling final day was set at Adelaide with England having an outside chance of squaring the series. After an action-packed fourth day, the Test was evenly poised between both the sides. Test cricket was at its best, it couldn’t get any better. There was tension, there was drama and there was intensity. There was action every over and both the teams were battling it out to get an edge, which only added to the competition.
For England, a determined Joe Root and Chris Woakes were at the crease. They had some batting to come, but Australia were always going to be a tough nut to crack. Root showed some good intent on day four and did well to cross the 50-run mark. In fact, along with Dawid Malan, he almost took the momentum away from Australia only to be broken by Pat Cummins at the stroke of stumps.
The match was expected to go down the wire, but Australian bowlers wrapped it up within a session. They registered a convincing 120-run victory, but the seeds of this were sown by Hazlewood in his first two overs of the day. England lost six wickets for 57 runs, which speaks about the kind of domination Australia had with the ball.
It was quite evident if England had to get close to the target, their best batsman had to get a big score under his belt. Root had to capitalise on the start and convert into a daddy hundred. He has been the spine of this batting attack and had to prove it once again.
Australian bowlers showed character on the final day – they were right on the money from ball one. They were brimming with energy and looked focused right from the outset. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that Australia were under the pump and needed to come out hard. This was the kind of effort the situation demanded from Australia and they brought their A game out to snatch a win.
One shouldn’t forget, both the English batsmen had to restart; they were as good as two new batsmen at the crease. They had to regenerate the concentration and settle down again. This was the only window of opportunity to cash in and Australian bowlers pounced on it. They didn’t provide any room for error and had things in control right from the outset.
Hazlewood doesn’t boast of an express pace like his fellow teammates, but still quick. His immaculate control and relentless accuracy is his primary weapon. He isn’t as intimidating as them, but inflicts damage silently. Hazlewood remained wicketless on Day 4 and was still finding it difficult to find his rhythm.
“Josh probably hasn’t been bowling as well as I’ve seen him bowl, I think he knows that. But this morning I thought the lengths that he came out and bowled were exceptional. The wickets of Woakes and Root, those lengths, that’s Josh Hazlewood, that’s what he does, he bowls that length day in and day out, doesn’t try to swing the ball too much, he just hits the seam, gets a bit of movement both ways and today it was reversing a little bit, but the length he bowled in that first spell was particularly good,” Smith was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo.
Hazlewood started the proceedings for Australia on Day 5 and got the much needed breakthrough on the very second delivery. The ball zipped off the surface and took a feather off Woakes’ willow only to be cupped by the keeper. This was the conventional delivery to a right-hander and Hazlewood did well in getting it dead right while the batsman was still unsettled.
Australia did’t have any reviews left in the bank and needed Aleem Dar to raise his finger, which he eventually did after a slight delay. Woakes reviewed the umpire’s decision but the Snicko suggested that there was an edge after hotspot couldn’t detect anything. The momentum was now with Australia and Mitchell Starc delivered a maiden from the other end to maintain the pressure.
If someone would have granted Smith a wish on Day 5, he would undoubtedly ask for Root’s early kill. On this occasions, Hazlewood turned out to be the ‘Genie’ for Smith and got the prized scalp of Root in his next over.
The ball seamed away a bit and stayed low after skidding off the surface. Root got an under-edge while he was still new to the crease. The damage was done, England’s chances of winning the game were shattered with this dismissal. Within 16 deliveries, Hazlewood ended England’s hopes as Root was dismissed without adding anything to his overnight score of 67.
“You wait for these moments to occur in games to go out there and stamp your authority on the game and pick up those early two, especially Joe Root, set the scene for today. A few nerves there as well as excitement for the opportunity to win a Test match for your country,” Hazlewood told ABC Radio.
Hazlewood’s spell turned the game on its head after which, Starc and Lyon got the job done. Australia now have a 2-0 lead and just a win away from regaining the Ashes. Hazlewood has often been compared with Glenn McGrath. Both the bowlers share a similar set of skills and attributes. Today Hazlewood proved why he is rated so highly.