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Australia eye the urn, as England contemplate reshuffle

Australia eye the urn after Adelaide win

Adelaide, December 6: The balance of power in cricket's great rivalry looks set to shift once again after Australia opened up a 2-0 lead over England in the Ashes.

A 120-run victory in Adelaide leaves Australia needing a win in either Perth, Melbourne or Sydney to regain the urn.

England's wretched start to the game could not be salvaged and there have even been murmurings of another whitewash. We take the opinion from both camps on the Adelaide Test.

Dejan Kalinic with the view from Australia:

The urn is returning to Australia.

A day-night Test in Adelaide appeared to have been England's best hope of a win and they failed to take their opportunity after being given half a chance by Australia captain Steve Smith.

Joe Root's decision to put the hosts in to bat was the wrong one, Australia's 442-8 declared the decisive innings of the second Test.

Smith decided against enforcing the follow on despite a 215-run first-innings lead. He was criticised and questioned but in the end proven correct.

With Pat Cummins in particular, but Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood also coming off recent injuries, in his four-man bowling attack, Smith's decision was the right one.

Australia's bowlers have delivered early in the series, all contributing at different times with Cummins and Nathan Lyon arguably outshining the star pace duo.

Lyon has been immense. The off-spinner has dominated the English – he has 11 wickets so far – and looks like taking a scalp every time he is introduced into the attack. It appears the tourists have few answers to Lyon at this stage.

As was expected, Australia have batting worries, albeit not as bad as England's.

Cameron Bancroft failed twice and Peter Handscomb looked scratchy, and in the end it was Shaun Marsh who stepped up again.

Marsh's unbeaten century in the first innings saw him earn player of the match honours in a crucial knock for Australia.

Even with Smith unable to dominate on this occasion, the hosts did enough.

With a WACA Test next on the list, Australia may yet complete their success in Perth, England's hopes dealt a huge blow with losses in Brisbane and Adelaide, the latter a venue at which they may have fancied their chances.

Matthew Scott with the view from England:

This was supposed to be the one England could win, but as we all know by now as England followers, it's the hope that kills you.

That hope even wafted through the air, before the window of opportunity was slammed shut, spoke of an impressive show of resolve from Root and his men to claw their way back into the realms of a realistic win.

Bowling Australia out for 138 and getting halfway to a winning total of 354 in decent shape proves that this England team is good enough to compete.

But the same old fragilities in the batting and the maddening first innings performance from the bowlers leaves them with too much to do, time and time again.

Root's bold bowl-first decision will go down as an error, but Stuart Broad and James Anderson beat the edge with the kind of regularity reserved for the Pope's Catholicism. When those frustrations grew, England's lengths crept further and further back and Root's real error was not getting on top of his bowlers and demanding fuller fare, which he later pinpointed as an error.

Instead, Broad and Anderson spent much of the first evening fielding as close to Smith as possible in stupid attempts to wind the home captain up.

Alastair Cook's form was a worry in Brisbane, it's now becoming a serious concern. Two more scratchy, unconverted starts mean the former skipper has gone beyond 50 only three times all year.

I doubt it gives anyone who predicted James Vince would spend this series nicking off for low scores great pleasure to see it enacted, but the Hampshire man must be removed, from his spot at three if not the team altogether, for Perth because he only served to add momentum to Australia's cause here.

The only Australian side to lose to England at the WACA features names that even the great cricket historians may struggle with (the game came in 1978 when Kerry Packer had poached the side's best players) and though this Australia is far from a great vintage, it has too much about it for a slapdash England side to handle on this evidence.

Source: OPTA

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    Story first published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 14:00 [IST]
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