Saturday, 22 January, 2022

Root falls as Stokes and England battle to save 4th Ashes Test

Scott Boland's extraordinary impact continued with the big wicket of captain Joe Root as England clung on in a tense final day of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney on Sunday.

Boland removed Root with a tantalising outswinger to have him caught behind for 24 and break up his stubborn 60-run partnership with Ben Stokes as the tourists battled to avoid defeat and go 4-0 down in the series.

At tea, England were 174 for four, still needing 214 runs to reach their improbable victory target of 388, with Stokes on 46 and first-innings centurion Jonny Bairstow 10.

Boland has had a phenomenal introduction to Test cricket since his debut in last month's Melbourne Test where he was man of the match with 6-7 in the second innings and so far he has taken 13 wickets in the series at 8.46.

Stokes, dropped by Marcus Harris at short leg on 16 just before lunch off Pat Cummins, was England's leading light and appeared to be batting with less discomfort from his side strain injury which affected him during his first innings of 66.

Cameron Green grabbed the biggest breakthrough of the morning with the wicket of Zak Crawley, who had made 77, just as the English opener was looking like he would score a hundred in a flowing performance.

The young giant ripped a yorker under Crawley's bat, striking his boot in front of the wicket and the Englishmen was given out and then lost the review.

Crawley impressed during his 100-ball knock with 13 fours, batting with positive intent and doing more than enough to keep his opening spot with Rory Burns likely to return to partner him for the final Test after another failure from Haseeb Hameed.

Green continued to impress with his seam bowling and has now taken nine wickets in the series, second only in the bowling averages at 14.88 to Boland.

Hameed, who was dropped by wicketkeeper Alex Carey, went three balls later when he was caught by Carey off Boland for nine.

Hameed's opening spot is in serious doubt for the fifth Test in Hobart in a week's time after a string of low scores.

Dawid Malan was next to go, for four, deceived as he tried to cut a quicker ball from spinner Nathan Lyon that skidded on to his off-stump, leaving the tourists at 74 for two.

The highest winning run chase in the fourth innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground was 288-2 by Australia against South Africa in 2006. England's best is 194 for five way back in 1903.

The beleaguered tourists, who surrendered the Ashes inside 12 days, have yet to pass 300 in the series.