Joe Root digs in to give England glimmer of hope in second Ashes Test
• Australia 442-8dec and 138 all out; England 227 all out and 176-4
• Root hits 67* but Dawid Malan falls before end of play after watchful innings
After England’s traumas of the first two and half days it was remarkable that as the players left the field on the fourth night the outcome of the match had yet to be decided. Indeed it was not even certain which side was going to win. At the close England were 176-4. So they needed 178 more runs for victory, Australia need six wickets.
This unexpected equation had three components. Firstly there was Steve Smith’s remarkable decision not to enforce the follow-on on Monday night, although it only came as a surprise to those who played in the 20th century; the modern cricketer does not appear to have the flexibility of mind to appreciate that enforcing the follow-on can be advantageous. Then there was England’s pace-bowling in Australia’s second innings; it was brimful of zest and discipline, spearheaded by Jimmy Anderson, who produced his first five wicket-haul in Australia and Chris Woakes, who took four wickets. Stuart Broad also bowled excellently and one day he might be persuaded to explain that he deserved at least one victim as a reward in that first session.