The fifth and final Ashes Test at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval is evenly poised on day two on Saturday with Australia bowled out for 303 after some big-hitting from Nathan Lyon.
In reply, England is 1-2 having lost an early wicket, with the returning Rory Burns sensationally runout by a Marnus Labuschagne direct hit.
Burns was lucky to still be in at the time having edged a ball to Mitchell Starc in the first over, which the Australians bizarrely didn’t appeal for.
It left the Fox Cricket commentary team stunned.
“I tell you what, I reckon he’s absolutely smashed that,” Shane Warne said in commentary after watching a replay of snicko.
“Yeah, he’s hit that. He’s hit it, there’s a big spike on snicko.
“He’s absolutely hit that. Very rarely do you see no appeal whatsoever.”
The following over, however, Burns was slow off the mark as Zak Crawley called for a quick single, and was runout.
“This is the worst way to get out, run out,” Mike Hussey said on Fox Cricket. “It’s just so uncecessary … Burns was slow to go.”
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Earlier, Lyon made his highest score against England, hitting three sixes on his way to 31 off 27 balls.
He was the last man to fall for Australia following the early day two wickets of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Alex Carey.
Starc was out early on day two as he top-edged a pull shot to Mark Wood and was caught for three. Pat Cummins then fell to Wood in similar fashion as Australia’s tail failed to wag.
“It’s great planning, good execution. The Australians aren’t playing it (the short ball) well at all and gifted a couple of wickets,” Michael Vaughan said.
Carey failed to silence his doubters as Chris Woakes had the wicketkeeper chopping on for 24.
Lyon was eventually bowled out by Stuart Broad while swinging for the fences, while Scott Boland finished unbeaten on 10.
FIFTH TEST FORECAST
Saturday: 26, shower or two (70% chance of rain 1 to 5mm)
Sunday: 24, partly cloudy (30% chance of rain 0 to 0.2mm)
Monday: 23, partly cloudy (20% chance of rain)
Tuesday: 19, cloudy (20% chance of rain 1 to 3mm)
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Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joseph Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Sam Billings (wk), Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad
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On Friday, day one honours would have gone to England after they won the toss and bowled to have Australia reeling at 3-12, before a sparkling century from Travis Head (101 from 113 balls) turned the innings on its head.
Head was backed up well by Marnus Labuschagne (44) and Cameron Green (74), who fell just short of a maiden Test ton.
England’s Stuart Broad (2-48) and Ollie Robinson (2-24) were the pick of the English bowlers on day one.
However a back injury to Robinson heaped pressure on the rest of the English bowling attack and they failed to measure up.
Mark Wood and Chris Woakes each managed a wicket on day one but were belted at a clip of (6.87) and (4.17) runs an over respectively.
Robinson is still struggling with the back issue and will not bowl in the opening session, instead restricted to fielding duties.
Speaking of Robinson, Michael Vaughan said: “It’s a massive blow, he bowled so well in the first few overs.
“But it’s a problem because he declared himself fit in the morning. I think it was a toss up between him and (Craig) Overton. He said he was fit and 10 overs in he goes down with a back injury.
“He needs to be fitter to play Test cricket for longer … I just want to see him bowl a bit quicker and to do that he has to be fitter…”
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Australia will be looking to edge their score past 300 on day two in a bid to set up the match and a potential 4-0 Ashes series win after England’s brave draw in Sydney.
Carey has come under fire for his catching and batting since his brilliant debut in Brisbane and day two presents the perfect opportunity for him to silence the doubters and cement his place in the side with a big score to set up the game in Australia’s favour.
Rain again threatens to disrupt day two after it delayed the start of the Test and brought about stumps being called early on day one.
“Humid. Partly cloudy. High (70%) chance of showers, most likely in the afternoon and early evening,” the forecast reads.
“The chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon and early evening with possible heavy falls. “Winds north to northwesterly 15 to 20 km/h shifting south to southeasterly 20 to 30 km/h in the middle of the day then becoming light in the evening.”
It sets the scene for a crucial day two for both sides who will want to set up a victory with weather threatening more interruptions throughout the game.