By Shrikant Shankar
Jan 4, 2014
England lost a flurry of early wickets to enter lunch on Day Two at 61 for five in the fifth Ashes 2013-14 Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on January 4, 2014. They trail Australia by 265 runs in their first innings. Gary Ballance is batting on 17 and Ben Stokes is on 23.
They began the day with their score at eight for one. On the second delivery of the day, Ryan Harris dismissed Alastair Cook for seven. He bowled a brilliant in-swinging delivery and Cook left the ball premeditatedly and it hit him on the pads in line with off-stump.
Harris should have been on a hat-trick as Ian Bell edged the next delivery to Shane Watson at first slip. Watson, though, dropped a regulation catch slightly to his left. Nightwatchman James Anderson was peppered with bouncers, especially by Mitchell Johnson.
He was hit on the gloves a couple of times and needed treatment on the field. He also got a four from a thick edge off the shoulder of his bat up and over the wicketkeeper. But a few deliveries later, Johnson found the outside edge of Anderson’s bat and Michael Clarke caught at second slip.
Things soon became worse as Kevin Pietersen edged an out-swinging length delivery from Harris to Watson, who made no mistakes this time around. Then Bell edged a good length delivery from Peter Siddle to Brad Haddin behind the wickets. England were reeling at 23 for five at that stage.
None of the top five batsmen got into double digit scores. Debutant Ballance and Stokes did provide some solidity as they stitched together a 38-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Australia captain Clarke kept attacking fields and that left vacant gaps on the leg side.
Stokes took advantage of this and flicked and hit a few deliveries to deep mid-wicket. He got quite a few runs in that area. Many were twos and a few were threes. Stokes also hit a couple of fours. Harris bowled one full and Stokes drove down the ground for his first four.
Ballance too was getting into his stride and looked more solid as the innings progressed. Then there was confusion regarding a catch. Siddle found the inside edge off Stokes’s bat and the ball was collected by Haddin. The Australian wicketkeeper himself was not too sure.
So, the umpires referred it to the third umpire and replays showed that the ball had bounced just before entering Haddin’s gloves. Harris then bowled an over-pitched delivery outside off-stump and Ballance played a delightful cover drive to get his first four in Test cricket.
Johnson then bowled a wayward over and the last delivery was short and wide. Ballance cut that for a four through cover-point. Nathan Lyon then came into the attack and dragged one short. Stokes rocked onto his back-foot and crashed that through covers for his second four.
Johnson then bowled a fast bouncer and Ballance was unable to get away from it and got struck n the helmet. It took some time before play resumed as Ballance changed his helmet. Lunch was then taken and England trailed Australia by 265 runs.
Australia 326 (Shane Watson 43, Steven Smith 115, Brad Haddin 75; Ben Stokes 6 for 99) lead England 61 for 5 (Gary Ballance 17*, Ben Stokes 23*; Mitchell Johnson 2 for 19, Ryan Harris 2 for 28) by 265 runs.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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