The Ashes: Australia within 4 wickets of victory against England in 2nd Test

Dec 08 2013, 13:37 IST
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Australian's Steven Smith celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Ian Bell during the fourth day of the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. (Reuters) Australian's Steven Smith celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Ian Bell during the fourth day of the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. (Reuters)
SummaryEngland now have only six wickets in hand to stave off a demoralising defeat.

Australia moved within four wickets of victory in the second Ashes Test and a 2-0 series lead after ending Joe Root's defiant innings late Sunday and exposing the England tailenders to the new ball before stumps on the penultimate evening.

Set an improbable 531 to win when Australia declared its second innings at 132-3 just before play resumed on day four, England lost captain Alastair Cook (1) in the second over and struggled to 247-6 at stumps.

Root (87) and Kevin Pietersen (53) shared a defiant 111-run partnership and Ben Stokes contributed a valuable 28 batting at No. 6 to help England force the test into the last day – its best hope of salvaging a draw with rain forecast for Monday.

Matt Prior was unbeaten on 31 at stumps and batting with Stuart Broad (22).

Despite the strong position, the forecast for rain will make the Australians nervous in Adelaide, where they failed to finish off South Africa by two wickets last November when Faf du Plessis batted all day to salvage a draw.

Prior also has form in the match-saving stakes, having forced a draw and salvaged the series with his unbeaten 110 against New Zealand on the last day at Eden Park in March.

His highest score since then is 47, however, and he had 0, 4, 0 in his first three innings of this series. The seventh-wicket pair also had some close shaves in the last few overs against the new ball, with Prior leaving a ball that narrowly missed his off stump and Broad being hit in the shoulder by a bouncer from Mitchell Johnson.

With the lights on in the gloomy, overcast conditions, and the crowd clap-clap-clapping in time with Johnson's run-up, the last few overs were menacing.

But vice-captain Prior resolutely hung on for the first time in the series and Broad stuck with him.

Root batted courageously as the top order crumbled but he fell short of his century when he played back to a Nathan Lyon delivery, edged onto his pad and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin dived forward to take the catch – his 200th in test cricket.

He batted for more than three hours and faced 194 balls, hitting nine boundaries, to hold up the Australian charge. Despite the heavy cloud cover all day, there was none of the rain forecast for Sunday that hastened Australia's pre-play declaration. Storms were expected overnight.

Australia was desperate to wrap up the second test

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