After a disastrous start to the day and being bowled out cheaply, England bowlers fought back valiantly to put them firmly on top at the MCG.
Ashes 2013/14 Fourth Test Day 2
England 255 all out (Pietersen 71, Carberry 38, Johnson 5-63) Australia 164-9 (Rogers 61, Haddin 43*, Broad 3-30 Anderson 3-50)
See off Johnson, try and bat for as long as possible. England coach Andy Flower's instructions for Day 2 must've been fairly simple and obvious geared to get his team a total of at least 300. Alas It didn't happen. Mitchell Johnson carried on from where he left off with a hostile spell of fast bowling in the morning session. He took quick wickets and ended up with another five-fer in the innings, taking his series wicket tally to 28. England lost their last four wickets for just 29 runs. Tim Bresnan who'd been roughed up the night before with a few rib ticklers from Johsnon was foiled once again by another short one. Aimed at his throat, the allrounder only managed to fend it to short leg.
Kevin Pietersen meanwhile had crashed his first ball of the day to the cover boundry, making his attacking intent fairly clear. Stuart Broad joined him at the crease as Australia looked to wrap things up swiftly. Broad may have a Test century to his name but his last 13 innings have yielded a measely 173 runs at an average of 16. A fact Pietersen must have been aware of. Perhaps sensing that the tail may not last long, he was out soon afterwards attempting to launch a Johnson length ball into the stands. Late inswing left little chance of any connection as the ball cannoned into Pietersen's middle stump. England were indeed all out soon afterwards 45 runs short of the coveted 300 mark Flower would've wanted.
England fans watching back home might have been forgiven for opting to go to bed at this point given England's fortunes in the series thus far. However what followed was a valiant England fightback, in which the bowlers took regular wickets to leave Australia firmly on the backfoot. The home side were left wondering at 164-9 at stumps, trailing by 91 runs. Here are some highlights from a day in which the run rate may have been slower than yesterday but a day none the less yielded 13 wickets in total.
Ball of the day
Jimmy Anderson has had a torrid time in Australia thus far with series figures of 7-409 from 3 Test matches. It's been arguably one of the main reasons behind England losing the urn. However today he rediscovered some of the old magic, taking 3 crucial wickets including the prized one of Australian captain Michael Clarke. Remember Clarke shouldering arms to Simon Jones in 2005? Well it wasn't too dissimilar today. Though Anderson's delivery didn't reverse as much as the one Jones bowled 8 years ago, it was in the corrridor of uncertainty and shaped in just enough to clip off stump. It was a massive blow for the Aussies and they were nine down by stumps as a result.
Shot of the day
Brad Haddin is averaging 65 in the series having scored three 50s and a ton. He may have ridden his luck at times in the series but today he batted magnificently showing a fluency not seen thus far by any other batsman. His shot against Ben Stokes was as a perfect example of that fluency. A ball that was only marginally full, was dispatched with disdain straight back over the bowler's head for six. England will be looking to make sure he doesn't add much to the total on day 3.
Catch of the Day
Steven Smith made a massive contribution in the first innings of the last test with a century. He looked fairly well set when he attempted a cut shot to a short, wide Broad delivery. The stroke didn't get the desired result as he edges a sharp chance to Ian Bell at 2nd slip. Bell appears to have taken over Graemme Swann's slip duties after the spinner retired from International cricket and England fans will be glad that he did. It was an extremely sharp chance and he made it look far easier than it was.
England's bowlers have put them in an excellent position to go on and win this game if their Batsmen oblige in the 2nd innings. It was an extremely disciplined display of tight bowling in which they squeezed Australia and kept the run rate hovering around 2 an over. Despite Australia's capitulation however, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers showed that there are ways of making runs on this wicket. England will need to take note and emulate the measured approach of Rogers with Haddin's proactive assault to post a commanding lead tomorrow. England fans will be very happy with the display today albeit slightly bemused as to why such spirit wasn't shown earlier in the series. It's never too late to restore pride however and they're on their way to doing that by giving themselves a chance of winning this test match.