Dominant Australia push toward big victory in 5th test

 07 Jan 2018 - 16:20

Dominant Australia push toward big victory in 5th test
England's captain Joe Root reacts as Australia's Nathan Lyon celebrates with team mates dismissing Dawid Malan during the fourth day of the fifth Ashes cricket test match. (REUTERS/David Gray)

By Keiran Smith / Associated Press

SYDNEY: On one of its most dominant days of the summer, Australia set up a 303-run first-innings lead before declaring at 649-7 and then tore through England's top order to close in on victory in the fifth test and a 4-0 Ashes series win.

After the Marsh brothers scored centuries to lead Australia into a commanding position, the bowling attack claimed four wickets to leave England floundering at 93-4 at stumps, still 210 runs behind, in oppressively hot conditions Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Skipper Joe Root was unbeaten on 42 and Jonny Bairstow was 17 not out at stumps, as England tried grimly to prevent a collapse reminiscent of its last appearance at the SCG in 2014 where it was bowled out in 31 overs to complete a 5-0 series loss.

"In many ways the last few days have summed up our trip," England assistant coach Paul Farbrace said. "It's been exceptionally tough, we've come up against a team that is playing very good cricket but the one thing that we've been talking about is making sure we keep on fighting and battling."

Resuming at 479-4 on day four, already with a 133-run first-innings lead, the Marsh brothers combined for a 169-run partnership and each raised their hundreds in the first session.

The feat meant Shaun and Mitch Marsh became the first Australian brothers to combine for a century partnership since Stephen and Mark Waugh put on 197 together in the fifth test at The Oval in 2001.

"To be out there with Mitch, to both get our test century today for Australia, being out there and sharing each other's emotions when we got to our hundreds, was an extremely happy moment," Shaun Marsh said. "It'll certainly be a day that we won't forget."

Mitch Marsh was the only wicket to fall in the morning session, bowled by Tom Curran (1-82) for 101, the delivery after reaching his century. Shaun Marsh was run out for 156 after lunch.

Tim Paine (38 not out) and Pat Cummins (24 not out) combined for a late flurry of runs before Smith's declaration midway through the afternoon session.

After nearly 14 hours and 193 overs in the field, England's second innings started poorly, losing Mark Stoneman (0) lbw to Starc (1-17) in the third over.

Stoneman reviewed the decision but replays showed the ball was hitting leg stump and the out decision was upheld, meaning England lost one of its two reviews early in the innings.

The blow was very nearly doubled the next ball as Cook edged to first slip, but the chance was dropped by Shaun Marsh to spare the opener, who had just become the sixth player to tally 12,000 test runs.

Only Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs), Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289), Rahul Dravid (13,288) and Kumar Sangakkara (12,400) have more test runs than the 33-year-old English batsman.

But Cook's reprieve was short-lived as Lyon (2-31) produced a perfect ball to clip the top of off stump and remove the veteran opener in what may well be his last tour of Australia.

Inside two overs James Vince survived a referral for caught behind and a near miss in the slips, before Pat Cummins (1-12) had the batsman edging to slip again and Smith grabbed a catch at the second attempt.

Root batted bravely for the cause, including being hit twice by Starc, with the second blow needing a lengthy stop in play while the England captain's right index finger was treated by medical staff.

England team officials confirmed after play that the finger injury was likely not serious and the captain would resume batting when play resumes Monday.

Lyon did get another deserved breakthrough when he trapped Malan on the back leg for five. Malan's review was unsuccessful as England slipped to 68-4 and batting through the day will be increasingly difficult for the English batsman on a day five SCG wicket.

"I think (Lyon) is the key tomorrow," Shaun Marsh said. "The wicket is definitely suiting his condition, especially with the left handers he'll come into play."

Australia regained the Ashes by winning the first three tests. The fourth match ended in a draw last week in Melbourne.