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Friday, December 17, 2010

Johnson's 6/38 revives Australia's fortunes: T3D2

Australia 268 & 3/119 (33ov, S Watson 61*) lead England 187 (62.3 ov, I Bell 53, A Strauss 52, M Johnson 6/38) by 200 runs with 7 2nd innings wkts in hand: T3D2 at WACA ground, Perth.

A fascinating day's cricket began with Alistair Cook and Andrew Strauss continuing from where they'd left off on D1, before Mitchell Johnson ripped through the England top order (much as England has done to Australia this series) to give the home team an unexpected 81 run first innings lead, which it then tenuously bonuilt upon.

An early incident, where Strauss snicked a ball in the air between the keeper and first slip, neither of whom did much to intercept it, seemed to presage another day's struggle for the home team. But at 78, when Johnson had Cook caught in the gully, the match began to change course sharply.

Johnson moved the ball, dismissing (with the aid of some umpire decision reviews) Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood lbw for a total of 9 runs. Ryan Harris chipped in with Strauss' wicket, caught behind for 52/102b (8x4). At lunch England were at 5/119: a situation more familiar to Australia of late.

But there was no Australian style revival. Ian Bell fought pugnaciously for 53/90b (6x4) but he didn't get much support as the four Australian quicks kept the pressure on (only Ben Hilfenhaus, who Johnson singled out for special praise for supporting him, went wicketless ) and worked their way through the lower order.

Australia wobbled again in its second innings, losing Phil Hughes, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke cheaply before Mike Hussey and Shane Watson added 55 to leave the match, with the pitch still playing pretty true, fairly evenly poised.

But it was Johnson's day, as 17.3 - 5 - 38 - 6 attests. Yet he would have mixed memories of another occasion at Perth when his great bowling didn't produce an Australian win.

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