By Justin Palmer
BIRMINGHAM – A snarling Mitchell Johnson, finding the pace and venom that demolished England in the last Ashes, dragged Australia back into the third test on Thursday as wickets tumbled again on the second morning at Edgbaston.
The left-armer jumpstarted his side’s fightback with two wickets in his hostile first over with England, replying to Australia’s paltry 136, losing two more before lunch to reach 221 for seven, a lead of 85.
Johnson brought up 300 wickets in tests when he struck twice in three vicious balls to remove Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, giving the tourists the shot in the arm they needed after a dismal batting display on the first day.
Joe Root kept his cool to compile 63 but fell chasing a wide delivery from Mitchell Starc.
Another capacity-crowd had barely settled into their seats when Johnson produced rip-snorters to send back Bairstow and Stokes to leave England five down.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
The recalled Bairstow had eased England past Australia’s first innings total by neatly guiding Josh Hazlewood to the cover boundary but the next over got a nasty welcome back to test cricket after an 18-month absence.
Johnson steamed in and directed a bouncer that was homing in on Bairstow’s throat, the startled batsman fending it off with glove to be caught behind.
Two balls later Stokes also got a taste of ‘chin-music’, unable to get out of the way of another thunderbolt and falling in the same fashion as Bairstow.
Root, as he did in the first test in Cardiff when he hit a first innings century, appeared well-set and brought up his 50 in 49 balls.
But when a wayward Starc sent another delivery wide of off stump Root could not resist and got an edge to Adam Voges at first slip, his slow trudge off the field a sure sign of his rashness.
Nathan Lyon, the leading wicket taker in the series, took his third wicket of the innings when Jos Buttler fell lbw and the off spinner also caused Moeen Ali all manner of the problems but the batsman survived to reach the interval unbeaten on 23.
The five-test series is level at 1-1.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)(Reuters)