A commanding win in the first test of the 2017-18 Magellan Ashes series has given Australia all the momentum heading into the second test at Adelaide Oval. This inaugural Ashes day-night test is set to be a thrilling one, the likes of Starc, Cummins, Anderson and Broad hooping the ball around under lights!
This is just how Australia would have wanted to start their Ashes campaign, win in Brisbane which more often than not sets them up for a successful series. It’s no secret that Brisbane has been England’s worst enemy in the past, it seems to be Australia’s hunting ground for the Poms and has led to some blowout Ashes series over the past decade. We move on to Adelaide, a ground renown for it’s dominant batting wicket that offers plenty of runs if you can get yourself set. What might or should definitely bring the bowlers into the game is the twilight aspect, bowling under lights when the conditions significantly change due to the dew in the air and on the surface. We’ve seen two day-night tests in Adelaide (2015 & 2016) where the ball really started to hoop around with batsman turning to survival tactics, the sun goes down and that’s where the star seam bowlers can do some real damage, especially with a relatively new ball. Don’t let the bowling-friendly conditions in the evening fool you, batsmen still tend to cash in on these wickets regardless of the “pink ball”.
Leading from the front in the first test of the summer, Australian skipper Steve Smith led his side to an impressive 10-wicket victory against their arch rivals. It wasn’t a dominant start to the match for the Australians though, they had to gradually grind England down with both bat & ball which certainly rewarded them for their persistence. England’s first innings total of 302 was analyzed as being 20-30 runs short of a really good total, and they were spot on with that predicament as Australia replied with a total of 328. An inspirational-innings from Steve Smith was the only thing stopping England from rolling through the rest of the order, his unbeaten 141 inevitably set up the rest of the match then & there. As much as I’d like to say it was an innings dominated by Smith, the truth of the matter is it wasn’t. Smith really had to work for his runs, he finished the innings having faced 326 balls for his 141, the key to his success was concentration and patience. Although they didn’t standout with their knocks, both Shaun Marsh and Pat Cummins deserve a big pat on the back after carrying their bat for as long as they did on a wicket that wasn’t exactly easy to accumulate runs on. Cummins 42 played a huge part in Smith staying at the crease as long as he did, had he gotten out it we might not have been talking about all of this. Rolling England for 195 in the second innings, Australia powered on to win the game by 10 wickets thanks to David Warner (87) and Cameron Bancroft (82) who both finished unbeaten while chasing the required target in 50 overs.
Top order batsman Usman Khawaja received a lot of criticism after he fell victim to Moeen Ali for just 11 runs in the first innings, apparently because of his lack-of-ability to play spin. Khawaja is a classy batsman, he’ll be out for revenge that’s for sure. Tim Paine’s return to the side was also a bit jittery after dropping a catch off Nathan Lyon’s bowling, but he recovered from that quickly and went on to take two catches and a stumping. It’s highly-likely that Australia’s bowling attack will decide the outcome of this next game in Adelaide, the fact that they have the potential to roll through opposition line-ups in half a day must be keeping England on their toes. Bringing the day-night aspect into play only adds to the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood’s individual game. The whole bowling attack contributed a healthy amount of wickets in the last test at the Gabba, even Nathan Lyon dangerous for a lengthy period of time. If England can’t see off Starc as well as Cummins and Hazlewood in that twilight period, the wickets could start tumbling at a significant-rate. A great start to the summer for the Aussies, can they add to it in Adelaide?
It started off so promising for England, but they just couldn’t outmuscle a hungry-Australian outfit on home soil. The wheels had completely fallen off in their second innings, some of the batsman showing no intent to stay at the crease which really did cost them big time. Shifting our attention to their first innings for a moment, it was great to see some fresh faces in this England test outfit fight for their wicket and make some decent contributions to the scoreboard. Mark Stoneman and James Vince did a particularly good job against the new ball and got them to the 55th over when the partnership was broken. Vince almost looked destined to score his maiden-test century when he was progressing nicely on 83, but a freak-run out produced by Nathan Lyon who managed to throw down the stumps with a direct hit left Vince stranded. 30-year-old Roehampton batsman Dawid Malan also put up a brilliant fight against the Aussie attack, scoring a huge amount of his runs in boundaries (11) which got him to 56 before he was caught at deep square by Shaun Marsh. What really hurt England was Joe Root’s performance with the bat, he did manage to score a fighting-fifty in the second innings, but as harsh as it may sound he came off second-best against Steve Smith. If Root doesn’t deliver something of significance in Adelaide, their Ashes campaign could turn very pear-shaped within an instance. Former England captain Alastair Cook already looks vulnerable at the top of the order, he managed just a measly-nine runs in Brisbane.
In the absence of suspended all-rounder Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali is now a pivotal part of this England side playing as the front-line spinner and batting at No. 6 as a genuine stroke maker. His batting was almost faultless, not getting carried away against Australia’s spin tactics, yet Nathan Lyon took his wicket twice in the Gabba test. The reality is he is in the side as an all-rounder, that means he’s heavily required with the ball when they’re looking to rotate their quicks from one end. A finger injury has cast serious doubt over whether Moeen will be able to bowl in Adelaide, if he isn’t that will force Joe Root to fill that void which isn’t the ideal scenario. Thankfully for England, the day-night conditions should suit the seam bowlers more from tea-onwards. England’s fast bowlers were kept fairly quiet in Brisbane, particularly James Anderson who managed just the two wickets in the fist innings. There’s no doubting his talent, but when it came to a pitch that wasn’t doing much, Anderson clearly had no answers. With dew expected to play apart when Adelaide transforms into it’s night life, Anderson is arguably their most dangerous bowler. After a pretty draining Australian first innings for the English bowlers, Stuart Broad was quiet impressive with his change ups in pace and picked up figures of 3/49, their second dig with the ball did them no justice whatsoever.
Fun Fact! The last test match played at Adelaide Oval was Australia vs South Africa in 2016 which was also a day-night test. Australia’s Usman Khawaja opened the innings with Matt Renshaw and scored 145 in the first innings.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Australia | 2nd test | Adelaide
- Mitchell Starc
- Steve Smith
- Josh Hazlewood
- David Warner
- Usman Khawaja
Wildcard pick – Shaun Marsh
Top 5 fantasy picks | England | 2nd test | Adelaide
- Joe Root
- Stuart Broad
- James Anderson
- James Vince
- Jonny Bairstow
Wildcard pick – Alastair Cook
Team News | Australia
Australia are expected to go into the second test unchanged.
Australia (possible) – 1. Cameron Bancroft 2. David Warner 3. Usman Khawaja 4. Steve Smith (c) 5. Peter Handscomb 6. Shaun Marsh 7. Tim Paine (wk) 8. Mitchell Starc 9. Pat Cummins 10. Josh Hazlewood 11. Nathan Lyon.
Team News | England
All-rounder Moeen Ali is almost a certainty to play the second test despite a finger injury, that could restrict him to just batting meaning they’re one bowler down. He didn’t bowl in yesterdays net session in an attempt to give his finger as much time as possible to recover before the match. Fast bowlers Jake Ball and Chris Woakes are also under the microscope heading into this Adelaide test, Craig Overton is awaiting his opportunity on the sidelines and could come into consideration.
England (possible) – 1. Alastair Cook 2. Mark Stoneman 3. James Vince 4. Joe Root (c) 5. Dawid Malan 6. Moeen Ali 7. Jonny Bairstow (wk) 8. Chris Woakes 9. Stuart Broad 10. Jake Ball/Craig Overton 11. James Anderson.
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