Usman Khawaja scored his second century of the match to put Australia in a commanding position to chase down a tired England in the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney on Saturday. Pakistan-born Khawaja has been in fine form on his return from a 30-month Test exile, scoring 137 runs in the first innings and breaking England’s heart with an unbeaten 101. His dominating 179-run partnership with young Cameron Green made a late declaration and left England to defy history with a formidable target of 388.
The tourists came close for 30 without losing a wicket, Jack Crawley scored an unbeaten 22 and Haseeb Hameed eight. They are behind by 357.
The highest winning run chase in the fourth innings by Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground is 288–2 against South Africa in 2006. No touring team has crossed 200.
England, who surrendered the Ashes within 12 days and are yet to cross 300 in the series, will hope to prevent Australia from leading the series 4-0 on the final day of Sunday.
Khawaja became the third Australian to score twin centuries in 140 years of Ashes cricket at the SCG and the sixth Australian in a Test match.
He played with England’s bowling by scoring his century in 138 balls with the help of 10 fours and two sixes.
He had solid support from Green, who registered his second Test half-century with a confidence-boosting 74 before Jack Leach replaced Joe Root at the top.
Alex Carey surprisingly came to bat and was dismissed off the first ball by Leach, prompting a long-awaited announcement by skipper Pat Cummins.
Leach scored 4-84 in 21.5 overs.
Khawaja and Green thwarted England’s efforts by scoring 86 for four by leading batsmen David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.
Smith once again failed to stop on 31 deliveries and was bowled for 23 after a late shot from Leach Scheider.
In the series so far, Smith has scored a total of 217 runs in the second Adelaide Test with 93 runs. His series average is 36.16, which is much lower than his current Test average of 60.84.
Mark Wood once again captured the valuable wicket of Labuschagne, the number one rated Test batsman, leaving him behind for 29 runs.
The Durham Express bowler has now taken the wicket of Labuschagne thrice out of his eight wickets in the series in a span of 52 balls.
Australia lost openers David Warner (3) and Marcus Harris (27) before lunch.
The tireless Wood takes an outside edge off Warner to take a catch to wicketkeeper Olly Pope.
Pope took four catches while deputizing for Jos Buttler, who had an X-ray the second day after injuring his left index finger.
Butler’s injury assessment will be done at the end of the Sydney Test, team officials said.
The stand-in takes a catch off spinner Leach to dismiss Harris.
England had earlier added 36 runs before being bowled out for 294 to give Australia an innings lead of 122 runs.
Jonny Bairstow added 10 more runs before being caught by Scott Boland.
After his maiden Ashes century in Australia, the Yorkshire biggie filled the audience with applause as he left the field.
Bairstow faced 158 balls and hit eight fours and three sixes when he was battling for 60 after a nasty blow to his thumb from Cummins.
Boland continued his remarkable series with his team’s best figures of 4-36.
Since his exceptional Test debut in Melbourne, where he was man of the match with a 6-7 finish, he has taken 11 wickets at 8.27.
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