England burn in Melbourne
A dazed England lost four wickets in a hostile late spell to leave them still trailing by 51 runs and fighting to stave off defeat on Monday at stumps on Day Two of a gripping third Ashes Test against Australia.
It came after the visitors—who must win in Melbourne—were rocked by four positive COVID cases in their camp, although no players were among them. Australia were all out for 267, earning an 82-run lead on England’s first-innings 185 on an MCG pitch that was still offering plenty for the bowlers.
Marcus Harris top-scored with a battling 76 against a dangerous English attack led by veteran Jimmy Anderson, who was at his fearsome best with 4-33 off 23 overs. After heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, England must win to keep the five-Test series alive, with Australia only needing a draw to retain the urn as holders. But faced with surviving the final hour against a revved-up Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, England collapsed again, slumping to 31-4 at the close. Struggling opener Zak Crawley never looked comfortable and was caught by wicketkeeper Alex Carey for five off Starc. Dawid Malan was out first ball to Starc lbw after an unsuccessful review, then Scott Boland ruined Haseeb Hameed’s day on seven, with Carey gloving an edge.
Fired up, Boland bowled Jack Leach to leave skipper Joe Root unbeaten on 12 and Ben Stokes on two—and England in deep trouble. Earlier, England took their chances with the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne (1) and Steven Smith (16), along with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon, before lunch. Harris (76) and Travis Head (27) surrendered in the second session before England mopped up the rest.
England 185 & 31-4 (J Root 12*; S Boland 2-1, M Starc 2-11) v Australia 267 (M Harris 76, D Warner 38; J Anderson 4-33, O Robinson 2-64, M Wood 2-71)
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