Ashes : Hosts win by 120 runs, lead 2-0

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Pns: Australia's Josh Hazlewood celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of England's captain Joe Root during the fifth day of the second Ashes cricket test match in Adelaide Oval, Australia on Wednesday Reuters Holders England now face the prospect of losing the series in next week's third Test at Perth's WACA Ground where they have not won a Test since 1978

Pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood spearheaded Australia to a crushing 120-run win over England to open up a 2-0 lead in the five-Test Ashes series in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Joe Root described his England team as being “massively” still in their series with Australia and in better shape than the team that was whitewashed four years ago despite going 2-0 down in their Ashes defence, and with history now heavily against them.

Hopes of a record run chase in the second Test were dashed early on the final day when, resuming 178 runs shy, they lost their final six wickets for 57. Josh Hazlewood claimed the wickets of Chris Woakes and Root in his first 11 balls and Mitchell Starc finished with five.

A rampant Australia now head to their Ashes stronghold of Perth – England have won there just once, against a Packer-depleted side in 1978 – but Root, though frustrated by his side’s sluggish start to the Test with ball and then bat, tried to remain upbeat.

“I thought we showed a lot of character which is what you want to see in big series,” said the England captain. “It is now about finding a way to do it over five days. The way that we went about the second innings proved to everyone really we are still massively in this series.”

On comparisons with the 2013-14 side, humbled 5-0 under Alastair Cook, Root replied: “I think we are playing better cricket. I don’t think we are as unevenly matched as we were. We have been in control for periods. I don’t think necessarily that was the case last time around.”

Root, caught behind off Hazlewood without adding to his overnight 67, admitted to be concerned about a lack of converted half-centuries personally – just 13 of his 47 have been turned into hundreds – but England’s issues clearly run deeper than his own Achilles heel.

Though Root was unrepentant over his decision to bowl first on day one, his attack’s inability to get their lengths right first time around saw Steve Smith’s side post 442 for eight declared. It left the Test an uphill struggle that even a third innings fightback led by Jimmy Anderson’s maiden five-wicket haul in Australia could not overcome.

The batting is most worrying, with no centuries so far, Jonny Bairstow looking too low at No7 and Nathan Lyon feasting on England’s left-handers. They have made up 10 of the off-spinner’s 11 wickets, including Moeen Ali in all four innings to date.

Root said: “We have to make sure we have decent game-plans and counter [Lyon] in practice to make sure we are ready for it when it comes round to the Test matches. It is about making sure you are clear about how you go about playing him individually. Do that then we will be in a very good place.”

Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, insisted Australia still have frailties, pointing to centuries by Smith in Brisbane and Shaun Marsh here being the chief difference. And yet the home side have past performers yet to fire, while Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan are still to taste three-figures at Test level at all.

On what that trio in particular must now do, Bayliss replied: “They have scored 30s, 40s, 50s. If you have made a fifty, which they have, you’ve just got to do it again. It’s about going through that ceiling and doing it twice.”

In contrast to Lyon, Moeen’s form with the ball – two wickets at 98 apiece – is vexing for Root and Bayliss. Though the bulk of England’s XI can rest during the two-day match in Perth from Saturday, the all-rounder, left done by side and finger issues, is down to play while Cook, after a slow start, may well opt to join him.

Mark Wood, the Durham quick, is expected to play also along with England’s Test reserves and some of the Lions squad. But an encouraging debut of four wickets and an unbeaten 41 from Craig Overton has left Bayliss minded to keep an unchanged side for the third Test that starts on 14 December as the WACA hosts its final Ashes match.

Bayliss added: “Somewhere along the line we will win a game and it will mean so much to them. It will make them believe they are good enough. When that happens we will be able to go on and get many more wins in those situations.”


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