Uphill task ahead as England battle for survival

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08 Jan 2022 | 12:57 PM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Uphill task ahead as England battle for survival

A look ahead to a riveting day of cricket expected on the fifth day of the fourth Ashes Test at Sydney Cricket Ground

A scintillating hundred by Usman Khawaja powered the home team to a commanding position at 265/6 declared on the fourth day at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

The left-handed batter was supported by Cameron Green as the duo stitched together a partnership of 179 runs for the fifth wicket to lay a solid foundation for the home team. 

With a lead of 387 runs, Pat Cummins declared the innings, giving the formidable Aussie bowling unit 11 overs in the final hour of play against the struggling England openers. 

One big concern for the England side in this series has been the lack of partnerships at the top of the order. However, with overcast conditions on offer, Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed showcased tremendous grit and determination to stitch together an unbeaten opening stand of 30 runs. 

The duo were solid in defence and ensured that England ended the day unscathed by registering their highest opening stand in this series. While they have started the innings steadily, England have a mountain to climb on the final day. 

With the wicket deteriorating, chasing 388 runs on the final day will require a magical effort from the batting unit. However, in the seven innings thus far, the team has failed to cross the 300-run mark, with 297 runs in the first Test at the Gabba being their highest. 

England's woes with the bat 

The visiting side has been crippled with inexperience in their batting unit and lack of support for Joe Root in the past couple of years. Their record at the ground in the fourth innings will also be something they would want to change. 

England have lost a wicket every 25.6 deliveries, which is the worst by any team at the SCG since 2000. 

 Australia's struggle in the fourth innings 

Despite the batting unit of the Three Lions failing to notch up runs, they have managed to survive over 100 overs in two out of the seven innings. 

On the other hand, Australia will aim to erase memories of the last time they stepped onto the field on the final day at this venue as Hanuma Vihari, and Ravichandran Ashwin defied all odds to help India hold on to a famous draw. 

While the Indian team batted for 786 balls to register a hard-fought draw, South Africa is on top of the list with 888 balls at Adelaide in 2012. In this century, teams have managed to draw a Test match at Sydney on nine occasions, which is something England will hope to emulate.

One of the reasons for their ability to win games in the fourth innings has been an indifferent performance of their ace spinner Nathan Lyon. Despite having played domestic cricket at this venue, the off-spinner has a dismal record in Test cricket at the SCG.

 In 19 innings, he has scalped 40 wickets at an average of 41.3 and a strike rate of 81, which is the worst for him among home venues with a minimum of ten wickets.

Can England script a turnaround?

While Australia dominated the first three matches of the series, England displayed improved performance in this game, with Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach leading their fightback. 

With a forecast of rain and thunderstorms predicted for the final day, the visiting side could benefit from the loss of overs. 

The last time England managed to draw a Test match in Australia was in 1998 when they faced 408 balls at Brisbane in 1998. In this century, England have failed to draw a single Test in Australia, batting in the fourth innings. 

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Australia vs EnglandEngland tour of Australia, 2021/22EnglandAustraliaJoe RootNathan LyonUsman KhawajaCameron Green

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