Mitchell Starc’s milestone in day-night Test matches left Australia in command of the second Ashes Test, with the home side taking a 282-run lead to stumps on day three with nine wickets in hand.
England capitulated from 150-2 to be all out for 236 in reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 473-9 declared.
Australia captain Steve Smith decided against enforcing the follow-on before the home side went to stumps Saturday at 45-1 with David Warner’s run out after a mid-wicket mix-up.
Under-pressure opener Marcus Harris survived both that and a crucial 17-over period under lights to finish unbeaten on 21 along with Michael Neser (2).
Australia remains unbeaten in the eight pink-ball Tests it has played, partly because of game management and partly because of skill. A large chunk of that day-night expertise can be attributed to Starc.
No bowler enjoys using the pink ball as much as the left-hander, who claimed 4-37 in the first innings at Adelaide Oval. His record now stands at 50 wickets — 18 ahead of next-best Josh Hazlewood — at an average of 18.10 in day-night Tests.
“We’ve got a bit of a luxury of having played eight tests and (six) have been here,” Starc said. “I don’t think I’ve nailed it. But we’ve all got a certain plan to it.”
Ashes 2021 HIGHLIGHTS, Australia vs England 2nd Test: Australia 45/1 at stumps on Day 3, leads by 282
Cameron Green was also influential for Australia on Saturday with 2-24, claiming the key wicket of Joe Root and ending a 138-run stand between the England skipper and Dawid Malan.
Green beat Root twice in the over in the lead-up to catching his edge on 62 before Starc had Malan caught in the slips six overs later for 80.
Root is the world’s top-ranked test batsman. He’s only the second test captain to score more than 1,600 runs in a calendar year — 1,606 in 2021, behind the 1,656 of South Africa’s Graeme Smith in 2008.
But he’s never scored a test century in Australia following his 62 in Adelaide and 89 in the second innings of England’s nine-wicket loss in the Ashes opener in Brisbane.
Malan, who has made 80 and 82 in his past two test innings, said after Saturday’s play: “It’s big runs … big hundreds that win you test matches.”
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“Last test match we were in a position, both myself and Rooty, to score hundreds and we didn’t do it,” Malan said. “And we were in the same position here. That is something we need to do better … if someone gets in, to make sure we get that big hundred.”
After claiming Rory Burns’ wicket under lights on Friday night, Starc also had Jos Buttler out for a duck as part of an 18-over period of 4-19 for England.
It continued a poor game for wicketkeeper Buttler, who dropped century-maker Marnus Labuschagne twice, including on 21 before he went on to post 103.
Australia’s Nathan Lyon also had a big influence, taking 3-58 on a pitch where England opted against playing a specialist spinner.
Australia will now likely try to bat through until the twilight session on Sunday before leaving England with the best part of four sessions to save the match.
A loss for England in Adelaide would leave the visitors 2-0 down in the series and needing to win all three remaining Tests to regain the Ashes.