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Aussies close in on 5-0

Agence France-Presse . Sydney

Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson (L) celebrates the wicket of England batsman Boyd Rankin (not in picture) on the second day of their fifth Ashes Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. — AFP photoAustralian paceman Mitchell Johnson (L) celebrates the wicket of England batsman Boyd Rankin (not in picture) on the second day of their fifth Ashes Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. — AFP photo

Australia were closing in on a 5-0 Ashes sweep after demolishing England’s batting and pushing their lead to 311 runs after just two days of the final Sydney Ashes Test on Saturday.
The relentless Australians blasted out the hapless tourists for 155 -- the fifth time England had been dismissed for less than 200 in the series—and set their sights on batting them out of the game with three days to play.
At second day stumps Australia were 140 for four with Chris Rogers compiling his fourth half-century in five innings on 73 and George Bailey not out 20.
The home side in the process lost the wickets of David Warner (16), Shane Watson (9), skipper Michael Clarke (6) and Steve Smith (7) as England tried to restrict Australia’s mushrooming lead on a flattening Sydney Cricket Ground pitch.
Australia’s pace trio of Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle earlier took three wickets apiece as England narrowly avoided the follow-on in response to Australia’s first innings score of 326.
The tourists never recovered from a disastrous morning session when they crashed to 23 for five despite the efforts of young guns Ben Stokes, Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow to repel the hostile home attack.
Stokes eked out a dogged 47 off 101 balls after his six-wicket haul in the Australian first innings.
But he showed an error of judgement that cost his wicket when he offered no shot and was bowled off-stump by Siddle just three short of his half-century.
It was Siddle’s second wicket of his 12th over after having wicketkeeper Bairstow caught by Bailey, purposefully positioned at short mid-on, for 18, ending a 49-run stand with Stokes.
Debutant Ballance earlier went in the second over after lunch for 18, caught behind off spinner Nathan Lyon.
Ballance showed plenty of fight coming to wicket with his team in dire trouble at 17-4. He took a Mitchell Johnson bouncer flush on the helmet and needed replacement headgear.
Stuart Broad finished with an unbeaten 30 off 22 balls.
England suffered yet another demoralising top-order collapse in the morning session against the dominant Australians.




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