Australia wrestled with a seaming pink ball under the lights to build a 268-run lead with six wickets in hand over England in an engrossing second Ashes Test in Adelaide on Monday (December 4).
In testing batting conditions, the Australians struggled against the moving ball in the final twilight session as England roared back after trailing by 215 runs in the first innings.
On a fast-moving third day, England were dismissed for 227 but the Australians found it difficult to score against the hooping ball under the lights.
“We know the night sessions are the toughest but to be four down we still have a 268-run lead and day sessions to come. We’re still very much in the driving seat.” – Mitchell Starc
At the close, Australia were 53 for 4 with Peter Handscomb and Nathan Lyon, the nightwatchman, both not out three.
The Australians lost the wickets of Cameron Bancroft (4) and Usman Khawaja (20) to James Anderson and a restrained David Warner (14) to Chris Woakes in the final session.
Steven Smith, the skipper, survived a desperately close leg before wicket review before he had scored off Anderson but was not so lucky when he missed out in another tight lbw review to Woakes for six.
England were fighting to stay in the Test as Australia chased a potentially decisive 2-0 lead in the five-Test series after winning last week’s Brisbane opener by 10 wickets.
Lyon and Mitchell Starc brought off spectacular catches as Australia had England under pressure in the first two sessions on Monday.
Lyon, the offspinner, pulled off a blinding one-handed catch to dismiss Moeen Ali off his own bowling in the second over after the first break.
Moeen chipped to the left of Lyon, who flung himself across the pitch in a split second reaction to take the catch.
Lyon again produced a sublime example of cricketing skill following his laser throw to run out James Vince in the first Brisbane Test.
Moeen had scored 25 off 57 balls in a 30-run stand with Jonny Bairstow.
Five overs later, Bairstow was on his way for 21 after Starc juggled the return catch and finally accepted it behind his back.
“We’ve fought back well, we’ve pushed Australia back tonight and we can take some positive stuff from that. Obviously, we’re behind in the game, but at the same time it’s really good that we’ve fought back and showed some good character to get ourselves back and put some pressure on Australia.” – Chris Woakes
Stuart Broad and Anderson were dismissed shortly after the dinner break, both off Lyon, to end the England innings.
Lyon finished with 4 for 60 and took over from South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (54) as the leading wicket-taker in the world this year with 55, while paceman Starc claimed 3 for 49.
Woakes and Craig Overton dug in to put on 66 for the eighth wicket before Woakes fell to a short-pitched Starc delivery, spooning a catch back to the bowler for 36. Overton remained unbeaten on 41.
Australia grabbed four wickets in the first session, including Joe Root and Alastair Cook, the key batsmen.
Root shaped to drive Pat Cummins, only to send a thick edge to Bancroft at third slip for just nine.
Root, third in the Test batting rankings, only faced 10 balls while Cook, England’s other big hope, was deceived by Lyon’s flight and edged to Smith at slip for 37 off 90 balls.
The former captain, who plundered 766 runs when England won in Australia seven years ago, has scores of 2, 7 and 37 in his three innings in the current series.
Vince went in the day’s second over to a poor shot, edging Josh Hazlewood outside off-stump to Tim Paine behind the stumps for two.
Dawid Malan was the other wicket to fall off an inside edge, caught behind to Cummins for 19.