Sport Australia has England on the ropes in second Ashes Test
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Australia has England on the ropes in second Ashes Test

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A double strike from comeback quick Jhye Richardson and late blows from Mitchell Starc have Australia poised for victory over England in the second Ashes Test.

Set a record target of 468 runs to win, England is 4-82 at stumps on day four in Adelaide.

Richardson, in his first Test since February 2019, removed openers Haseeb Hameed (zero) and Rory Burns (34) while debutant Michael Neser dismissed Dawid Malan (20).

And Starc, in the final over on Sunday night, removed a battered England captain Joe Root (24).

Root earlier on Sunday was sent to hospital for scans after being struck in the testicles while not wearing a protective box during batting warm-ups before play.

The skipper was cleared of serious injury, but missed England’s initial 80 minutes in the field.

Root appeared untroubled while batting until two overs before stumps when he was again struck in the groin, this time by a Starc delivery timed at 139.4km/h.

Root collapsed, doubled over and rolled on the ground, where he remained for minutes before slowly rising to his feet and taking a pain-killing tablet.

The frightful blow came as Root became England’s highest run scorer as Test captain, passing Alastair Cook’s 4844-run mark.

But that milestone will be scant solace for Root after he nicked a Starc delivery to wicketkeeper Alex Carey in the last over,

His team stares a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five series with England’s resistance resting largely with Ben Stokes (3 not out).

Australia declared its second innings at 9-230 some 50 minutes before tea with first-innings century maker Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head top scoring with 51 apiece.

Head’s aggressive 54-ball cameo rallied Australia after it lost 3-7 – including opener Marcus Harris for 23 and Steve Smith for six – in to wobble to 4-55.

Head then dominated an 89-run partnership with Labuschagne, who passed 50 in both innings for the fifth time in his 20 Tests.

Australia’s leading bowler Starc received treatment for a back injury after a lusty swing while batting but continued his innings until dismissed and then took the new ball in the field.

But it was his pace partner Richardson who landed an early blow by dismissing Hameed for a duck in just the second over.

The in-form Malan, on 19, received a let-off when Smith dropped a regulation catch at slip from Nathan Lyon’s bowling.

But Malan’s reprieve was short-lived: the next ball he faced, he was stuck on the crease and trapped lbw by Neser (1-7).

The Englishman reviewed the decision but replays confirmed his dismissal, leaving the tourists 2-48.

Richardson (2-17) later struck again when enticing an edge from Burns, who was sharply caught at second slip by Smith to leave England 3-70.

A dozen runs later, Root was out and Stokes is left with a mighty scrap to salvage a draw as England’s task of winning is nigh-on impossible.

The highest successful fourth-innings Test run chase is the West Indies’ 7-418 against Australia in 2003.

And the highest fourth-innings winning chase in Adelaide is Australia’s 6-315 to beat England in 1901-02.

-AAP