In Test cricket, a strong batting lineup will fetch runs while a dominating bowling attack will gift wicket and a wicket-taking bowling-attack is mandatory to win a Test match. A team has to pick 20 wickets for a win, of course, runs equally important. Having a batting line-up that yield runs is the base, but what’s the point if the bowling doesn’t have the potential to pick 20 wickets?
Prior to the start of the Ashes, one could have crystal glazed and see Australia’s intimidating pace attack running through the English line-up Down Under. Although they haven’t run through it, but have done well to register two victories in as many games so far.
Mitchell Starc has been picking wickets while Josh Hazlewood has done well to have prized scalps to his name. One shouldn’t forget, both the seamers have not been at their best, their best is yet to come. Nathan Lyon has evolved into a spearhead whereas Pat Cummins continues to be the unsung hero. Cummins’ numbers may not be compelling, but his impact has been huge. The scorecard will show the number of wickets he has picked, but not the kind of pressure he built and a numerous number of times when the beat the batsmen. It’s been a team effort, so far and the attack has clicked collectively.
Australia romped home to another victory at Adelaide, they won the encounter by 120-runs and now have a formidable lead of 2-0 in the series. The onus of making a comeback is now in England as the home will be looking to regain the Urn with another emphatic win at Perth. The win at Adelaide was quite an intense one, as the game was evenly poised between both the sides at stumps on Day 4.
Australian bowlers raised the bar on the final day and came out all guns blazing to wrap the game up inside a session. A Test match that looked to be a tough one turned out to be a cakewalk in the first session of final day’s play. England lost six wickets for just 57 runs, which is a testament to the kind of domination Australia had over English batsmen.
After bowling England out for 227 in the first innings, Australia gained a healthy lead. English bowlers put up a fighting performance as Australia batting crumbled for 134 setting a tricky target of 354. England looked determined and needed a win badly to square the series.
Wickets were difficult to come, but Nathan Lyon chipped in with the key wicket of Alastair Cook after England put up a cautious 53 at the top. Moments later, Mitchell Starc got rid of Mark Stoneman to set the tone. Coming back from an injury, Starc has not produced the kind of magic everyone expected him to. Still, he has been lethal enough to bag wickets at regular intervals.
Joe Root and James Vince looked solid and the partnership started building. Just when things were slipping out of Australia’s control, Starc struck once again with Vince’s wicket to put England on the back foot. Root looked like a rock and needed some support from the other end. Australian bowlers were tightening the noose around England and a victory looked imminent.
Root and Dawid Malan defied the odds and put up a fight against the pumped Australian attack. The duo stitched a 78-run stand between them and started to look threatening. The tension was mounting on Australia to get another wicket, but nothing could break their persistence. England were heading towards ending the day on a high, but Pat Cummins had other ideas.
Cummins produced an incredible delivery to beat Malan’s defence and kiss the timber to break the blooming partnership. This was undoubtedly one of the crucial points in the match as Malan had started to play his shots and runs were coming by. Cummins may only have a solitary wicket from this outing, but he provided one at a crucial juncture.
Australia needed six wickets to win on the final day while England needed 178 runs to emerge victorious. Hazlewood was wicketless in the second innings, but looked extremely focused and determined from ball 1 on the final day. He got rid of Chris Woakes and Root successively in two overs and broke the spine of England’s batting. Root’s dismissal was the turning point of the match and Hazlewood brought his best out to achieve so.
Things were pretty much under Australia’s control but England still had some batting to come in Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Craig Overton. Lyon roared once again to get the better of Ali after which, it was all about Starc cleaning up the tail.
Starc once again proved why he is so deadly against the tail. He trapped Overton on the first ball of his new spell and showed the kind of rhythm he discovered. He was the pick of the bowlers with five scalps to his name and the signs are just good looking.
England didn’t cross the 250-run mark in both the innings at Adelaide, in fact, they have scored 302 just once in the four innings so far, which came at Brisbane. With this victory, one can only expect the Australian bowling attack to improve.
While Cummins and Lyon have been spilling fire, problems will only increase for England once Starc and Hazlewood peak. Defending 354 at Adelaide by a margin of 120 runs is just a testament to the fact that there is no chink in Australia’s bowling armour. A team may have one or two weaknesses in their bowling, but that is not the case with this Australian attack. It’s fighting as a unit, as a team and the Australian pacers are hungry for more wickets.