Swing bowler Mitchell Johnson claimed a six-wicket haul on Friday to dismiss England for 187, and put Australia in control of the third Test to rekindle its hopes in the Ashes series.
Australia was 119 for three in the second innings at stumps, a lead of 200 runs on a greenish pitch offering constant assistance to the swing bowlers.
Shane Watson, 61 not out, and Mike Hussey, 24 not out, will resume their 55-run stand on Saturday aiming to lead the home side to a series-levelling win.
Australia was dismissed for 268 runs on the first day after being asked to bat first. In reply, England looked in control at 78-0 before Johnson’s inspired spell gave him figures of 6-38 on his home WACA Ground, justifying the selectors’ decision to recall him after he was dropped for the second Test.
After helping Australia post a competitive first innings with a top score of 62 on the first day, Johnson was even more impressive with the ball, denting England’s hopes of a victory that would ensure the tourists retained the Ashes.
England started the day on 29 without loss, and looked like building a third straight imposing total, but instead the visitors’ top-order collapsed to 98-5. Ian Bell scored a defiant 53 to stand between England and a meek capitulation, his fourth successive Test half-century.
Johnson’s recall to the team appeared to signal desperation among the selectors after Australia endured an innings defeat in the second Test. However he silenced the critics with a fiery 24-ball spell that broke the back of an England batting order that had looked impregnable over the past two innings.
England’s openers Andrew Strauss (52) and Alastair Cook (32) shared a strong opening stand before left-armer Johnson started England’s slide by finding the edge of Cook’s bat, with the chance taken by Hussey at gully.
He then followed up by trapping Jonathan Trott (4), Kevin Pietersen (0) and Paul Collingwood (5) lbw with nearly identical late in-swingers, as England lost five wickets for 20 runs.
Pietersen challenged his dismissal but the video review upheld umpire Marais Erasmus’ decision. Later, Johnson successfully challenged Erasmus’ decision to give Collingwood not out, with replays showing the ball straightening to be on track to hit off stump.
Johnson returned to the attack just before the tea break, removing Chris Tremlett’s off stump and then luring James Anderson into an edge to first slip to claim his seventh five-wicket haul in his 40th Test appearance. Ryan Harris took 3-59 including the scalps of Strauss, Bell and Graeme Swann.
Batting again, Australia lost opener Phil Hughes for 12 and skipper Ricky Ponting was out for 1, having faced just nine balls before a video review found him gloving a catch down leg side off Steve Finn, who finished with figures of 2 for 48.
Keywords: Ashes series