Root hoping close call in Adelaide yields results in Perth

December 6, 2017
England's Joe Root comments after the end of their Ashes cricket test match against Australia in Adelaide, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Australia won by 120 runs. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — As long as Joe Root stayed at the crease Wednesday, England was confident that a win over Australia was possible.

The England skipper resumed on 67 on the last day of the inaugural day-night Ashes test, his team needing 178 for victory with six wickets and three sessions to score them.

Some seasoned British commentators were openly hopeful of an England win.

But Root didn’t add to his overnight score and England, after losing two wickets for one run in the first three overs, was bowled out for 233 in its second innings to give Australia a 120-run victory.

Now Root’s squad heads to Perth knowing that a loss at the WACA, where England hasn’t won a test since 1978, will cost them the old Ashes urn that they regained on home soil in 2015.

“We came to the ground this morning well in the fight but unfortunately early wickets really did cost us,” Root said. “If we got in and went on and make a decent partnership there it is a completely different game.”

England rallied spectacularly after seemingly spiraling out of the contest after being bowled out for 227 in its first innings in reply to Australia’s 442-8 declared.

Australia captain Steve Smith opted not to enforce the follow-on, despite having a 215-run first-innings lead, meaning the English attack had perfect conditions under lights on day three to exploit the pink ball’s extra swing and seam movement.

The 35-year-old Jimmy Anderson took full advantage with two wickets as Australia slipped to 53-4 by stumps that night, and another three to claim his best innings haul ever in Australia of 5-43. Australia was out for 138 in its second innings, setting England 354 to win.

That was more than England had ever scored in the fourth innings to win a test match, but in no way impossible.

Root said it was frustrating that the last six wickets fell so quickly on Wednesday after the character his team had shown on the two previous days.

“Last night and leading into that we showed what we can do and we showed the side that we actually are,” Root said. “We need to make sure we repeat those performances for longer periods of time.

“I thought the way we responded in the second innings with the ball and then the fight and resolve we showed last night with the bat was outstanding.”

Root was part of the lineup in 2013-14 when England lost in Perth to surrender the series, which Australia went on to sweep 5-0.

He’s confident that this series, despite the score line going into Perth, is much more competitive and his lineup has outplayed the Australians for several sessions so far.

“The way we went about it yesterday was exceptional and that has to be the benchmark,” he said. “That shows how we are still massively in this series.”

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