Ashes: Fourth Test Day 4: The moments that mattered

Usman Khawaja punches the air as he reaches his second century of the match at the SCG. Image: @Dave_Middleton. Twitter

History was made at the SCG on Day 4 as Usman Khawaja became just the third man in history to register twin centuries at the venue in a non-rain-interrupted day of Ashes cricket in Sydney.

Scott Boland returned to the bowling crease and helped wrap up the innings for Australia before they stuttered their way along early with the bat as England fought again with the ball in hand.

A 179 run fifth-wicket partnership between Usman Khawaja and Cameron Green took the game away from England as Khawaja reached his 10th Test century and Green posted his second Test half-century before England got through the final 50 minutes unbroken reaching 0/30 at Stumps.

Here are the moments that mattered on Day 4 at the SCG:

Boland ends Bairstow’s brilliance as Australia claim remaining English scalps

Australia got what they were after on the fourth morning when they wrapped up the England innings inside ten overs, bowling England out for 294, with a lead of 122.

Nathan Lyon was the first to strike, removing spinner Jack Leach in his second over of the day. Not before playing two lovely cover drives that went to the boundary for four, Leach skied a ball looking to go for glory which fell into the hands of Pat Cummins.

Returning to the bowling creates after being assessed for injury during the third session of day three, Scott Boland continued his wicket-taking ways for Australia as he removed Jonny Bairstow in his second over for the day.

On 113 and batting with tailender Stuart Broad, Bairstow was looking to drop the ball at his feet and get up the end for a quick single to keep the strike for the start of the next over but could only edge the ball through to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, bringing his brilliant innings to a close.

Boland wrapped things up for Australia at the start of his very next over when Stuart Broad, as he had tried too many times in his short innings, tried to pop the ball into the Victor Trumper stand, miscued a pull shot which went straight in the air and fell into the gloves of Alex Carey.

It gave Boland figures of 4/36 to continue his fantastic introduction into Test cricket, operating at an average of 8.27 after three innings.

Both openers fall before lunch as lead slowly accumulates

There would be no second innings at the SCG fireworks from David Warner today as Mark Wood made the first incision to the Australian top order in his first over of the second innings.

Wood, who has bowled so much better than his stat line suggests this series, found the left-handers outside edge which sailed into the waiting gloves of substitute wicketkeeper Ollie Pope. Caught for just three.

As Wood went back to the top of his mark, the cameras showed Wood has cut his knee which had stained his trousers after his latest tumble in his bowling action follow-through. One of the constant players in the England side this series who has continually given everything putting his mind and body on the line for his country yet again.

Labuschagne walked to the crease next knowing that for the first time since his re-introduction to the Australian test team he was gettable. Since becoming the number one ranked test batter after the Adelaide Test, Mark Wood has dismissed him twice in 10 balls. It didn’t deter him as he and Harris continued to push the score along with the pair added 40 for the second wicket and looked settled at the crease.

That was until Marcus Harris advanced to Jack Leach which caught the edge and was nicely taken again by substitute keeper Pope, removing Harris for 27.

Australia went to lunch on day 4 at 2/66 with a 188 run lead.

Wood continues his hold picking up Labuschagne again.

Since it was declared in Adelaide by a commentator that Marnus Labuschagne’s ability to leave the ball and that he “doesn’t nick off” he has now done it three times in consecutive innings. All to the same bowler.

Mark Wood picked up Labuschagne again in the first over after lunch to continue his edge on the world’s number one batter. The third time he has gotten him in 24 deliveries.

Bowlers and other teams around the world have been searching for a chink in Labuschagne’s armour as he continued to plunder and pile on the runs. The extra pace of Wood has continued to trouble Labuschagne first in Melbourne when Wood returned to the playing XI after being left out in Adelaide and now has him twice in both innings here in Sydney.

While Australia has the three subcontinental tours on the horizon in 2022, Wood might have just exposed the world’s number one ranked batter with a dislike of raw pace, providing an opening to all teams moving forward.

Leach gets into the game as Stokes’ absence with the ball felt

Like many of his England teammates, it has been a miserable old tour for England spinner Jack Leach. Bashed around in Brisbane, not used in Adelaide then poorly used in Melbourne.

He was brought onto bowl early in the second innings, bowling the 11th over which was again, a questionable decision and move from Joe Root with the spinner, who has been used as a defensive option all series, using a relatively new ball, it was another interesting tactical decision from Root and his usage of his spinner.

Leach got an early wicket removing Marcus Harris on the stroke of lunch and struck again after the lunch break when he clean bowled Steve Smith, against the run of play with a ball that pitched in line and slid past the swing bat, beating him and smashing into the stumps.

Starting to generate spin and turn from the SCG surface, Leach started gathering momentum with a longer spell, his longest for the series, operating with a much more attacking field.

It was noticeable. Nearly every time Leach had been called up to bowl this series, he has started his spell with three or four men patrolling the boundary rope. As his spell wore on in the second session, the number of boundary riders continued to fall as Leach grew with confidence and more and more into the game.

It was as an extended spell at the Randwick end as England were really feeling the absence of Ben Stokes with the ball in hand. After injuring himself while bowling in the first innings and batting through considerable pain, Stokes was out in the field with his England team on the Fourth day but looked in increasing pain with every passing over. Casting further doubt over his status and availability for the Fifth Test next week in Hobart.

Leach finished the innings with 4/84 off 21.5 overs. He was robbed of a chance of a hattrick and a five-wicket haul with Pat Cummins calling the Australians in at the fall of Carey’s wicket.

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Green and Khawaja prise momentum back, steady the ship with important stand before tea

With Australia nowhere near a considered “comfortable” position in terms of a lead to start throwing caution to the wind and swinging for the fences to build declaration runs when Cameron Green walked to the crease at 4/86 with the lead just 208 runs.

While Green has had a lean series with the bat so far, he averages 66.33 in the second innings of Test matches. Australia would have loved all those runs to help get up to a “safe” position to continue building a big enough lead and have a brief swing at the England top order tonight.

Yet again as they have many times this series, Australia prised the momentum back out of England’s hands as He and Khawaja got into thier work. Seeing off a testing spell from Jack Leach and a couple of bursts from Mark Wood as the pair reached their 50 run partnership just prior to the tea break. Australia went to Tea with a lead of 271, edging closer to comfort with every passing run.

When Green departed for 74 when they were swinging for declaration runs, the pair had put on 179 runs for the fifth wicket, putting Australia yet again in a commanding position to boss the game.

Green fills his boots reaching second half century

Afforded plenty of time in the middle, Cameron Green set about making his mark on this Ashes series with the bat. Already with a reputation of a “second innings specialist” on the ground where he scored his maiden Test 50 last summer, Green walked out to bat with work to do.

Partnering with the calm Khawaja at the other end, Green steadily built into his inning and got Australia to a safe and comfortable position before he started to free his arms.

He reached his half-century with consecutive boundaries off James Anderson. The first, a classical front foot cover drive straight down the ground. The second, he connected with a pull shot which raced away quickly with one bounce to the fence by the member’s pavilion as he raised his bat and acknowledged the crowd.

As the message came out at drink to continue swinging for the fences with a declaration in sight, Green set about chasing his maiden three-figure score at test level as he started taking it to the England tiring bowling attack, including depositing Jack Leach into the Victor Trumper stand.

Leach got his man the following delivery as Green looked to go big again and miscued high in the air which landed in the waiting arms of Joe Root.

Khawaja’s dream return capped off with twin tons

He might not call it his home ground anymore, but Usman Khawaja must love batting on the SCG more than any other ground in the world.

The elegant left-hander, fresh off an amazing comeback century in the first innings where he made 137, was the toast of the SCG again on day 4 as he became just the third man to register twin centuries at the SCG.

After raising his bat again for 50 just after the tea interval, dispatching a half-volley from Stuart Broad to the boundary for four, he continued on his free-flowing run-scoring ways as he and Cameron Green continued to progress the scoreboard and build the formidable target for England to chase.

As momentum gathered and Usman started pulling out the funky shots as the milestone neared, the 20,277 strong crowd rode every moment.  Joe Root tossed the ball to Dawid Malan as he ticked down to the milestone.

With six men patrolling the boundary fence, Khawaja worked a ball into the outfield leg side and set off for two which he made easily, bringing up his 10th Test century to another adoring roar from all corners of the SCG.

Chants of ‘Uzzie’ swirled through the aisles of a raucous SCG, grown adults bowed down in worship from the seats of the Members Pavilion, while Khawaja fist-pumped, screamed, twirled, prayed – soaked it in.

He became just the third man behind Doug Walters and Ricky Ponting to score twin centuries at the SCG. He became the 16th Australian to score a century in both innings of the match and he also added his name to the short list (eight men) of those who have scored twin centuries in an Ashes Test.

England survive late burst as clouds roll in again.

England’s openers have had a rough old time on the tour and when Pat Cummins declared with the dark clouds rolling in with 50 minutes to play on Day 4, it was set to be another tough examination for the fragile opening combination.

It was a tough job that faced both Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley but both English batters made it through to stumps unbeaten, fighting off the fired up and refreshed Australian bowlers and the weather as it began to close in.

England reached stumps at 0/30. Their highest opening partnership of the series. They will return tomorrow with 358 runs to win or to survive the 98 overs.

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