England trail an Australia Invitational XI by two runs with five wickets remaining at the close of play on the second day in Sydney.
The Three Lions, who suffered a difficult first day, reached stumps on 302-5 as the batsmen found their groove. England smashed through the Australian lower order to set themselves a first innings target of 304, a number they are likely to pass within the first over of the third day.
|Aaron Finch||c Bairstow b Broad||4|
|Ed Cowan||c Trott b Finn||51|
|Callum Ferguson||lbw b Broad||8|
|Kurtis Patterson||c Cook b Finn||5|
|Ben Rohrer||c Carberry b Broad||19|
|Ryan Carters||c Bairstow b Broad||94|
|Peter Nevill||c Bairstow b Finn||83|
|Joshua Laylor||c Swann b Finn||0|
|Christopher Tremain||c Carberry b Rankin||1|
|James Muirhead||not out||14|
|Nicholas Bills||c Carberry b Finn||6|
Steven Finn had been expensive for his two wickets during the opening day as he missed a chance to state his claim for a spot in the first Ashes Test. However, things changed quickly after the restart, the Englishman racking up three wickets in quick succession to take his overall to five.
Peter Nevill and Joshua Laylor fell to Finn before Boyd Rankin took his first wicket of the match when he dismissed Christopher Tremain.
Australia’s lower order looked out of their depth, highlighted when Finn took the final wicket of Nicholas Bills to remove the hosts for a disappointing score of 304. They had added 33 runs for the loss of five wickets.
Finn will feel happier about his hopes of becoming England’s third Ashes seamer, although his form is still shaky at best. Despite taking five wickets, his line remained sloppy, and Australia's Ashes batsmen will not be expected to afford him such hospitality.
Andrew Wu of the Sydney Morning Herald remained jovial regarding Finn's performance:
England then took to the crease and quickly ushered in a spell of dominance.
Alastair Cook’s 81 set the tone for a calming performance, although Michael Carberry fell for the first time this tour, posting a disappointing four runs when he was caught by Nevill off the bowling of Lalor.
|Alastair Cook||c Nevill b Bills||81|
|Michael Carberry||c Nevill b Lalor||4|
|Jonathan Trott||c Nevill b Lalor||83|
|Kevin Pietersen||caught sub b Muirhead||57|
|Ian Bell||c Rohrer b Muirhead||35|
|Joe Root||not out||26|
|Jonny Bairstow||not out||11|
Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen built England’s score with scores of 83 and 57 respectively. Australia’s bowlers just couldn’t get to grips with the power and assurance of the visitors’ top order, allowing England to gain a modest total without much trouble.
Ian Bell wasted a start as he fell for 35. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow—the potential stand-in for Matt Prior—remained at the crease with 26 and 11 at the close of play, suggesting England can take a decent lead into the second innings if the duo bat sensibly on day three.
Lalor conjured up some sort of plaudits for the Australia XI with two wickets, while James Muirhead will be pleased to have matched his compatriot’s number.
Bills’ dismissal of Cook remained his only success, while Nevill took an impressive three catches to help the Aussies deal with a comfortable top order.
England firmly in control as we head into day three against a poor Australia side.
All statistics are courtesy of cricket365.