England finally ‘arrived’ at the Ashes in the words of former skipper Michael Vaughan after an enthralling day four at the Adelaide Oval.
After Australia had dominated the opening three days in the second Test, England came roaring back into the match to give themselves a chance of a miraculous victory on the final day.
The visitors were at 176-4 at the close of stumps, needing 178 runs more to win with skipper Joe Root still batting at the crease.
Here, we look at the key talking points from day four.
JAMES ANDERSON’S MAIDEN FIVE-WICKET HAUL DOWN UNDER JOLTS AUSTRALIA
England’s pace spearhead has got plenty of stick from Australian supporters over the years for his relative ineffectiveness Down Under.
The 500-wicket man is on his fourth Ashes tour of Australia but he had never taken a five-wicket haul in 14 Tests prior to Adelaide.
The 35-year-old had removed Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja in a terrific display of swing bowling under the lights on Monday. He was equally effective in the warm sunshine of Tuesday morning as he sent both Peter Handscomb and Nathan Lyon packing. He returned to dismiss Mitchell Starc to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in Australia.
Anderson’s 5-43 was the catalyst for England’s remarkable fight-back after they had seemed downed and out in the first three days.
DRS LEAVES PLAYERS AND PUNDITS BAFFLED
The Decision Review System (DRS) was at the centre of attention on day four at Adelaide as both players and pundits were left baffled by some of the calls.
The first controversial moment arrived when Alastair Cook was adjudged not out by the umpire after being struck on the pads by a full Nathan Lyon delivery. The ball seemed to be sliding down the leg-side but Steve Smith opted for a review. However, Hawkeye showed that the ball turned just enough after bouncing to be on course to hit the stumps and the decision was overturned.
Root then had a lucky reprieve when batting after he left a Lyon delivery alone only for it to turn in sharply and wrap him on the pads in front of the stumps. The umpire’s finger was raised quickly but DRS showed that the ball would bounce over the stumps.
— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) December 5, 2017
Smith then had two reviews wasted in the space of three balls to compound his DRS misery. He believed the England captain had inside-edge a Pat Cummins delivery to Tim Paine but DRS showed no contact with the bat.
The Australian skipper then thought he had his man after Josh Hazlewood trapped Dawid Malan on the pads after the ball stayed low. Hawkeye however showed that the ball would bounce over the stumps to leave the Aussies stunned and bewildered on the field.
JOE ROOT SHOWS HIS CLASS TO LEAVE ENGLAND DREAMING OF VICTORY
England’s leader had been much chastised for his decision to bowl first on the Adelaide track after he had won the toss. It all seemed to be going wrong for England as Australia put on a big first-innings total before bowling England out to take a 215-run lead.
The 26-year-old had failed to convert his starts in the opening Test at Brisbane and had failed in the first innings at Adelaide. It is fair to say the pressure on Root’s shoulders was huge as England stared down the barrel at another defeat.
On Tuesday, he showed why he considered in the same breath as Steve Smith as he brought up his 34th Test fifty. He walked into bat after openers Cook and Mark Stoneman felt in quick succession to leave England rocking at 54-2. He steadied the ship in the company of James Vince first and Dawid Malan later. Going into the final day, England’s hopes will rest on Root going big and a 14th Test ton from him might just be what England need on the final day to cap off a dream victory.
STEVE SMITH’S FAILURE TO IMPOSE FOLLOW-ON COMES BACK TO BITE AUSTRALIA
If the England skipper had come in for some criticisms following his decision to bowl first, his opposite counterpart will be left wondering if he made the right call in not enforcing the follow-on.
England had seemed well and truly out of the game after conceding a huge 215-run lead in the first innings but Smith chose to bat again in the hopes of getting some quick runs on the board on Monday.
Smith would have thought Australia would have batted long enough to declare before lights came on at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday but his gambit has allowed the tourists to creep in through the back door.
His batsmen were rattled by England’s pacers to be bowled out for just 138 runs and Root’s innings has now put them well within reach of a famous victory come Wednesday.
If Australia go on to lose from here, Smith’s decision could be giving him sleepless nights for some time to come.
With the islanders in trouble at 31-3 chasing 410 in the final innings, Virat Kohli’s men look on course to win their ninth consecutive Test series win.
Here, we look at the two good and bad performances on a day which was dominated by the hosts.
RAVINDRA JADEJA’S EXTRA OVER SPELLS TROUBLE FOR SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka were placed at 31-1 with the light fading at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. They would have hoped umpire Nigel Llong would bring an end to play when he got out the light-meter.
The Englishman allowed Jadeja to bowl one another over and it was these six balls which spelt trouble for the islanders.
With the very first delivery Jadeja struck as he had Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha. The opener was looking to defend but the ball held its line before taking a faint outside edge.
Nightwatchman Suranga Lakmal blocked out two deliveries in succession but disaster struck in the fourth ball as Jadeja turned around to appeal vociferously for the leg-before decision.
Little did he know that the ball had crept onto the stumps to bowl Lakmal.
VIRAT KOHLI’S FABULOUS SERIES WITH THE BAT
After his second consecutive double-ton in the first innings, Kohli continued the good form on the fourth day with a well made fifty.
After starting with a duck in the first innings in the opening Test at Kolkata, Kohli has since gone to score 104, 213, 243 and 50 runs in his subsequent stays at the crease.
He overtook Brian Lara for the most double-tons as a Test captain with his sixth in the first innings. His 610 runs in the series make him the runaway leader in runs scored and it will be no surprise to see Kohli walk away with the man of the series award come Wednesday.
AJINKYA RAHANE FAILS YET AGAIN
The Indian deputy skipper breached the 10-run mark for the first time in the series after a dreadful batch of form. While he was promoted to number three on Tuesday, it wasn’t enough as the 29-year-old perished on exactly 10 while trying to hit Dilruwan Perera over the top.
Rahane’s scores in the series read a sorry 4,0,2,1 and 10. A combined total of 17 runs in five innings represent a miserable return for the right-hander before going into a tough away tour of South Africa.
Other Indian batsmen have all scored big at one point or the other in the series but Rahane has failed to rediscover his touch as he has struggled with timing.
DELHI’S SMOG STRIKES YET AGAIN
Day two of the Test had descended into a farce after Sri Lanka’s players had to resort to wearing face-masks amidst the high pollution levels in New Delhi.
Pacer Lakmal had to leave the field while developing a cough during his run-up as play was stopped several times over the issue.
Things got no better on Tuesday when India’s pace spearhead Mohammed Shami was seen coughing on the field while going back to his run-up while bowling.
The fast bowler has removed Sadeera Samarawickrama with a display of ferocious and aggressive pace bowling but it seems his efforts took a toll on him.
Sri Lanka were reeling on 31-3 while chasing a daunting 410-run victory target on Tuesday in a pollution-tainted third Test in New Delhi blighted by scenes of bowlers vomiting on the ground.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in an over to rattle the visitors, who must bat out three more sessions to save the match and draw the series with top-ranked India.
Dhananjaya de Silva was on 13 and Angelo Mathews had yet to open his account when bad light stopped play at the smoggy Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Fast bowler Mohammad Shami dismissed opener Sadeera Samarawickrama off a roaring bouncer but stopped in mid-over to vomit, crouching down and then gulping water.
He went on to complete the over but left the field shortly afterwards.
In the morning session it was Sri Lankan paceman Suranga Lakmal who threw up twice. He went to the dressing room briefly but returned to the field, bowling 14 overs and taking one wicket.
Groundsmen rushed in to cover the spot with sand and sawdust as smog in the heavily polluted Indian capital took centre stage for a fourth day in a row.
A doctor at the stadium examined three Sri Lankan players and said their vital signs were normal.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who made 50, declared India’s second innings on 246-5 after Rohit Sharma reached his half-century in the final session, setting the visitors a formidable victory target.
No Test team has chased down 410 since 2003, when the West Indies defeated Australia after making 418 runs.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan top-scored in India’s second innings with 67 on an easy wicket. Apart from Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Dhananjaya de Silva took a wicket each.
Earlier, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 373, conceding a 163-run lead to India who had declared on 536 for seven.
But it was the hazardous smog in Delhi that again dominated the day.
The US embassy website showed concentrations of the smallest and most harmful particles at 398 — 15 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit. Conditions were even worse on Monday.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India said late Monday that New Delhi could be dropped as a venue during winter, when pollution across the region spikes.
BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said venues would be reconsidered “in view of the situation which was encountered in the last two to three days”.
“The BCCI has been sensitive on the smog and fog matter over the years,” he added.