ASHES 2021-22 : 4th Test Day 2 Highlights, Khawaja century propels Australia forward

The second day in Sydney followed a template much like most other days in the Ashes series as Australia dominated once again. Led by Usman Khawaja’s 137 on return to the side, Australia piled on 416 before declaring late in the day on Thursday (January 6).

England had five overs to see through before stumps and they would’ve lost Zak Crawley who had edged to David Warner at slip had Mitchell Starc not overstepped in his delivery stride. In the end, England’s openers survived the required overs to finish on 13/0.

Khawaja reached a century in the final over before Tea and stitched a handy partnership with Pat Cummins. The skipper fell early after Australia went past 330, but it was on the back of a very dynamic stand between Khawaja and Starc that Australia went past 400. The duo started off briskly, and eventually paced themselves well during the stand. They took on the poor deliveries and saw off the good ones. Khawaja chopped on to give Stuart Broad another Test five-wicket haul. It was the first fifer for an England bowler this series. Thereafter, it was only a matter of how many more runs Australia could get. Starc remained unbeaten on 34 and Lyon on 16, having hit two fours and a six.

England put on a far better show with the new ball in the middle-session, picking up three wickets. If England had called the shots for the first-half of the session, Australia nabbed the momentum towards the end, thanks to a clinical Khawaja, who scored his ninth Test century.

The English bowlers who looked flat in the first session, were lively after Lunch, led by Broad, who was top class. He troubled Steve Smith a few times in the sixth over after the break before having him caught-behind for 67, breaking the 115-run stand. He then forced an under-pressure Cameron Green to nick off too, as the batsman lunged forward to defend against Broad’s seam bowling. Mark Wood bowled with a lot of steam, but couldn’t get the breakthrough as Australia inched towards the 300-run mark with Khawaja set at the crease.

It was an outstanding knock from Khawaja, who would’ve been pleased to get a century on comeback. He scored runs in the Sheffield Shield since being dropped and made the most of the opportunity when it presented itself. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but he weathered through the rough phases to settle into the innings. Root should’ve brought himself on earlier with a left-hander in the middle, but let Khawaja off. He struck immediately when he did, putting an end to Carey’s struggles with Jonny Bairstow taking a splendid catch behind midwicket. Cummins took 22 balls to get off the mark, but struck back-to-back fours against Dawid Malan to push forward Australia’s total.

Rain headlined the morning session with as many as four interruptions despite mizzles that didn’t warrant long breaks. England had their tails up at the end of Day 1, but Australia did some good work in the opening hour to keep the visitors at bay. Although the bowlers kept the Australian batsmen in check, they couldn’t make inroads. They bowled good lengths and lines, but none of the bowlers created chances or looked likely to threaten Smith and Khawaja, who saw through a testing phase where runs were coming at a trickle.

Rain, however, arrived periodically to send the players off a number of times, upsetting the rhythm of both the batsmen and the bowlers. Yet, Australia’s batsmen didn’t lose focus, and tactically, England were pretty good for most parts of the session too. Jack Leach could’ve been more attacking upfront with England setting defensive fields for the spinner. He, however, was the only one that gave England a chance for a breakthrough when inducing an edge off Khawaja’s glove on 28, but Root was a tad late to react and put him down at slip.

Brief scores: Australia 416/8 decl. (Marcus Harris 38, Steve Smith 67, Usman Khawaja 137, Mitchell Starc 34*; Stuart Broad 5-101) lead England 13/0 by 403 run


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