Australia, already in the driver's seat, stepped into the fourth day of the second Test with a 282-run lead. It was all gloomy ahead for the England bowlers, but they managed to create some early inroads when they picked up Marcus Harris and Steve Smith cheaply, owing to blinders from Jos Buttler. However, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head stood tall once again. Labuschagne went on to register another fifty and Head contributed with a brisk innings of 51 off 54 balls. A few lusty blows by the lower order batsmen helped Australia post 230/9 before declaring. With a day and a session left, England have a mammoth target of 468 ahead of them.
As it has been the case this year for England, one of the openers departed early and this time it was Haseeb Hameed for a duck. Dawid Malan and Rory Burns rebuilt the innings with a 44-run partnership before Michael Neser pinned the former. Once again, the onus was on the skipper, Joe Root to bail them out. Burns was looking good until he was dismissed by Jhye Richardson in the 31st over. Ben Stokes and Root, looking to consolidate, were struck with a big blow in the last over of the fourth day. Root on the front foot, edged one to Alex Carey off Mitchell Starc. England, on the back-foot, desperately need a miracle to draw this Test. Here are a few notable stats from the fourth day:
Labuschagne continues to torment England
In his Test journey so far, Labuschagne hasn’t lifted his leg from the accelerator pedal. Actually, it seems as if he doesn’t have a brake pedal. It's been just 20 matches and he already has scored 2000+ runs, considerably one of the modern greats. In day/night Tests, he exceeds his limits. In eight innings, he has scored 643 runs at an average of 80 with three centuries and three half-centuries. In this Test, for the second time in day/night Tests, he scored a century and a half-century in the same match. Overall (day and day/night), this is the third time in Tests he has achieved this feat. Since his debut, this is the joint most for a batsman alongside his captain, Smith.
Seven different bowlers with a wicket
In the first innings, England used six bowlers and all six bowlers picked up a wicket at least. In the second innings, Malan as well chipped in with his leg breaks for a few overs and picked up two wickets. Overall, England had seven different bowlers with a wicket each in this match. For the first time after 56 years, seven different England bowlers were wicket takers in a match. The last time this happened was in 1965 against South Africa in Cape Town, when eight of their bowlers had at least a wicket to their name.
England bowlers heavy workout
It was a hard toil for the English bowlers. There was a short interval in the second innings where one of their fast bowlers was bowling off spin – Robinson bowled three overs of off spin. In 61 overs of Australia's second innings, England used seven bowlers. Overall, they had bowled 211.4 overs in this match (excluding no-balls). This is the second most overs they have bowled in an Ashes Test since the start of 2000.
Root breaks another record
It has been a record-breaking year for Root. He has scored the most runs for an England batter in a calendar year. He became the most successful captain of England with a win over India in Leeds (27 wins). Now, he has scored 1600+ runs this year sitting at fourth in the all-time list of highest run scorers in a year. In this innings, he broke another significant record. He went past Sir Alastair Cook’s tally of 4844 runs as England skipper. He now has 4859 runs to his name as England’s captain.
In the first innings, en route his 62, Root surpassed Cook’s count of most 50+ scores as England skipper. With 12 centuries and 25 half-centuries, Root has 37 scores of over 50, beating Cook’s 36.