Ashes 2013-14: England lose last five wickets for six runs to leave Australia chasing 231 at the MCG
Australia ended a dramatic third day of the fourth Ashes Test on 30-0 after England set them 231 for victory at the MCG.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 29/12/13 1:13am
Mitchell Johnson was once again amongst the wickets, taking 3-25, but it was Nathan Lyon who was a rather unlikely bowling hero for the hosts, the off-spinner taking his first five-for on home soil and in the process bringing up 100 victims in Test cricket.
The efforts of the duo saw England slip from 65 without loss to 179 all out. At one stage they lost three wickets for one run in six balls after lunch, and then saw the last five perish for the addition of just six in the evening.
Having bowled out their opponents for 204 in the morning, Brad Haddin the last wicket to fall for 65, the tourists quickly built on their first-innings lead of 51 thanks to a half-century from Alastair Cook.
The left-hander became just the sixth Englishman to pass 8,000 Test runs during his knock of 51, joining an illustrious club that includes his current batting coach, Graham Gooch, and team-mate Kevin Pietersen, who made 49 himself in the second innings.
At 29 and three days Cook is also now the youngest player in the history of the game to reach the landmark, beating the previous mark of Sachin Tendulkar by 21 days.
However once he was trapped lbw by Johnson the innings went into a dramatic decline that was capped off by the lower order once again being blown away in blustery conditions in Melbourne.
An afternoon wobble began with Michael Carberry once again being dismissed by a seamer bowling from around the wicket, this occasion Peter Siddle ending a rather painstaking effort of 12 from 81 balls.
Joe Root (15) then gifted his wicket away by taking on Johnson's arm at mid-off, not even a desperate dive saving him, while Ian Bell became Lyon's first victim when he tamely chipped a catch to the same fielder to depart for a second-ball duck.
Pietersen and Ben Stokes (19) added 44 in a damage limitation job before the latter perished trying to hit Lyon over the top of mid-off, though Jonny Bairstow offered more positive signs as he put on 42 in a hurry for the sixth wicket.
Yet from the moment the wicketkeeper-batsman was caught behind off Johnson for 21 the rest offered minimal resistance.
Lyon (5-50) removed Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad, both for ducks, in the same over, then completed his five-wicket haul by claiming the prized scalp of Pietersen, who once again showed his complete lack of trust in the tail by holing out to Ryan Harris at long-off.
Johnson trapped last man Monty Panesar to end the innings, allowing Australia's opening pair of Chris Rogers (18 not out) and David Warner (12no) enough time to knock a few runs off their target and dent their opponents' already fragile confidence even further.
As well as another batting horror show, England will be ruing their inability at the start of a see-saw day to see off the last-wicket partnership of Haddin and Lyon before they had added 40 runs in 45 minutes.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Haddin progressed beyond 50 for the fifth time in the series before falling to James Anderson (4-67), a short ball being top-edged into the air for Bairstow to pouch comfortably.
Despite the delay in ending the innings, captain Cook and company would still have been confident of a morale-boosting victory when they came out to bat again. By stumps they looked almost resigned to going 4-0 down, even though Australia still needed another 201.