Perth: Australia wrested control of the third Test back from England for the second day in a row on Saturday, reducing the tourists to 180 for four at the close of play and taking another step towards reclaiming the Ashes.
Ian Bell, nine batting, and Ben Stokes, unbeaten on 14, will resume on day three on Sunday with England trailing Australia’s first innings tally of 385 by 205 runs.
The tourists need at least a draw to keep the series alive and had built a solid platform when Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry put together the highest opening partnership in eight Tests against Australia this year.
Australia’s bowlers, though, are charged with confidence after dominating the English batsmen in the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide and defied energy-sapping temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius to strike back.
Carberry and Joe Root, controversially, fell in the half an hour before tea and Cook and Kevin Pietersen were dismissed in the final session - all without the standout bowler of the first two Tests, Mitchell Johnson, taking a single wicket.
“Other bowlers are getting vital wickets at vital times,” Australia bowling coach Craig McDermott told reporters.
“Everyone’s chipping in, bowling tightly, bowling good lines and more importantly swinging the old ball. We’ve got 12 overs until the new ball tomorrow, so a wicket early would be ideal and we can get stuck into them with the new ball.”
England dealt with the first new ball reasonably well but Carberry had already survived a couple of scares when he played on a Ryan Harris delivery from around the wicket for 43 half an hour before tea with 85 runs on the board.