Australia reached 119-3 in its second innings to lead England by 200 runs in the third Ashes cricket Test in Perth as 13 wickets fell on day two.
Recalled fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who top scored in Australia’s first-innings 268 yesterday, claimed 6-38 to help bowl England out for 187. The touring team then dismissed Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke before stumps.
Johnson’s seventh five-wicket haul in elite Tests earlier helped Australia take an 81-run first-innings lead as it seeks to level the best-of-five contest at 1-1 following defeat in Adelaide. A victory for England at the WACA Ground would give it an unbeatable 2-0 lead and see it retain the Ashes.
“Being dropped from the Test team in Adelaide was disappointing but it was a good wake-up call for me and got me working on things that I needed to,” Johnson told Channel 9. “Hopefully out there I showed that today. As a bowling group we did very well together.”
England removed Hughes, Ponting and Clarke in the final session to rebound after losing 10 wickets for 109 runs to be all out just before the tea interval. England’s openers had taken the score to 78 without loss before the collapse.
Steve Finn had Hughes caught by Paul Collingwood at third slip for 12 and then dismissed Ponting for one with a delivery that flicked the Australian skipper’s glove and was taken by wicketkeeper Matt Prior down the leg side. The umpire’s initial judgment of not out was overturned on appeal.
Ponting, who faces the possibility of losing a third Ashes series as Australia captain following defeats in the U.K. in 2005 and 2009, has now made 83 runs in six innings at an average of 16.60.
Clarke blasted 20 runs off 17 balls before getting an inside edge onto his stumps when trying to force a delivery from Chris Tremlett through cover.
Johnson, who was dropped for the second match after going wicketless in the series opener at Brisbane, earlier wrapped up England’s innings in the final over before tea by bowling Tremlett and having James Anderson caught at slip by Watson. Ryan Harris finished with 3-59.
Harris dismissed captain Andrew Strauss for 52 before lunch to leave England, which amassed 1,137 runs for the loss of six wickets in its previous two innings, reeling at 119-5.
Australia bombarded Prior with short-pitched balls after the break and the tactic worked when he was forced to defend a Peter Siddle delivery. The ball rebounded onto his bat off his body and dropped to the ground before hitting the stumps for Siddle’s first wicket since day one of the series.
Ian Bell and Graeme Swann added 36 runs before Harris got his second wicket when Swann edged a ball that moved late behind to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Harris struck again when Bell, after top scoring with 53, edged to Ponting at third slip to make it 186-8.
Johnson’s haul of wickets followed his opening-day effort with the bat when he scored 62 to help Australia’s lower-order lift the total past 250 after it had slumped to 69-5.
The Australians, who entered the match on a five-Test winless run, have won the past five Ashes Tests at the WACA, where England has one victory in 11 previous attempts.
As holder, the English would keep the trophy by tying the series. England last successfully retained the Ashes in 1986-87, when Mike Gatting’s team secured a 2-1 series win in Australia.
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