ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) – England were fighting for their lives in the second Ashes Test on Friday after Australia bowled out both openers in a ferocious period under lights on day two, leaving the visitors reeling.
In Adelaide, the host team declared their first innings on a dominant 473 for nine, leaving England with a difficult 40 minutes against a swinging pink ball.
They struggled, with under-pressure Rory Burns surviving just three balls against a rampaging Mitchell Starc, edging a rising delivery to Steve Smith at second slip after making only four.
Haseeb Hameed clung on for a little longer before Michael Neser, filling in for skipper Pat Cummins, who pulled out of the Test at the last minute due to a Covid worry, took his first Test wicket.
On six, Hameed chipped to Starc at mid-on, as Neser was surrounded by his teammates.
England’s destiny is once again in the hands of skipper Joe Root, who was unbeaten on five and Dawid Malan was unbeaten on one as they reached stumps at 17 for two after lightning forced an early halt.
England lost the first Test by nine wickets in Brisbane, and if they go down 2-0 in Adelaide, the Ashes are all but over, with Root’s side having to win all three remaining Tests.
“Obviously, it’s been a challenging two days, we’ve spent a lot of time out in the field,” England all-rounder Ben Stokes said.
“But we get to play tomorrow in natural light, which I think most people would agree is the easiest and finest time to be a hitter out in the middle.”
“We don’t feel we’ve been beaten yet,” he continued.
Earlier, Marnus Labuschagne top-scored with 103, while David Warner (95) and Smith (93) offered crucial assistance when Australia started from their overnight 221-2 deficit.
Stokes led the England assault with 3-113, while Jimmy Anderson had 2-58.
Labuschagne reached his epic century after batting practically all day on Thursday, bringing up his sixth Test tonne and first in an Ashes series off a tenacious 287 balls.
But he struggled when Ollie Robinson was introduced into the England attack, and he was caught lbw with only eight runs added to his overnight 95.
“It was good to earn the hundred; clearly, I had a few opportunities there, but that’s how it goes sometimes, you ride your luck,” Labuschagne said.
“It feels like you have to work hard for every run you go on.”