By Richard Evans
ADELAIDE, Australia -England were spared the ignominy of the follow-on but Australia appeared on course for victory after dominating day three of the day-night second Ashes test at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Spearheading Australia’s pace attack, depleted by the absence of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc combined with spinner Nathan Lyon to bundle out England for 236.
The hosts, who had declared their first innings on 473-9, finished the day on 45-1 for an overall lead of 282 and looking primed to go 2-0 up in the five-test series.
Marcus Harris was batting on 21, having featured in a mix-up that resulted in opening partner David Warner’s run out for 13.
Debutant Michael Neser, replacing Cummins who missed out for being a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, was on two in his nightwatchman’s role.
“We didn’t bowl how we wanted to in that first session, let it slip on the scoreboard and searched for wickets,” Starc said afterwards.
“The way we came out in that second session, Nath (Lyon) and I took it on ourselves a bit being the two experienced ones in the attack.”
The day had begun so brightly for England with Joe Root and Dawid Malan sharing an unbeaten 138 during the wicketless first session but the wheels came off their innings soon after the dinner break.
Cameron Green broke the stand when he had Root, who made 62, caught by Australia stand-in skipper Steve Smith at first slip.
It was a ball Root could have left and the England captain was furious with himself as he walked off after falling short again of his first century in Australia.
It soon got worse for England as Malan, who scored 80, slashed a Starc (4-37) delivery that he should have left with Smith taking that catch too.
Ollie Pope (five) survived a review but squeezed a Lyon (3-58) delivery to Marnus Labuschagne fielding close in and, moments later, Jos Buttler fell for a duck to Starc.
Lyon also dismissed Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson as England, cruising at 150-2, lost their last eight wickets for 86 runs.
Failure to take more than one wicket in the late night session, considered a pace bowler’s best time in a pink-ball test, only compounded England’s misery after an abject batting display.
“One of Rooty and myself should have gone on to make a big hundred,” a dejected Malan said.
“Big hundreds win test matches and me and Rooty didn’t do it. Both times we have been found short as a batting unit.
“To get to 80 and get out pretty softly today was disappointing.”