Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Joe Root in­sists that Eng­land are still “mas­sively” in the Ashes se­ries de­spite fall­ing 2-0 be­hind with a 120-run de­feat in the sec­ond Test.

Eng­land ar­rived on the fi­nal day at the Adelaide Oval with an out­side chance of sus­tain­ing their re­vival in the in­au­gu­ral pink-ball Ashes en­counter.

But af­ter con­ced­ing a 215-run first-in­nings deficit, even James Anderson’s maiden five-wicket haul in Aus­tralia and then a bat­tling half-century from the Eng­land cap­tain him­self could not truly turn back the tide.

Root was un­beaten at stumps on the penul­ti­mate night, with 178 needed and six wick­ets in­tact to pull off a na­tional-record run chase of 354 to level the se­ries.

In­stead, he fol­lowed night­watch­man Chris Woakes back as Josh Ha­zle­wood twice struck early and then Mitchell Starc (5-88) was the en­forcer who en­sured Eng­land were bowled out for 233 well be­fore tea.

Root and coach Trevor Bayliss none­the­less agree that, even from 2-0 down with three to play, Eng­land can still re­tain the urn.

“It is ob­vi­ously very dis­ap­point­ing now,” said the cap­tain, who “strongly dis­agrees” with any­one cur­rently pre­dict­ing a sec­ond suc­ces­sive 5-0 white­wash de­feat Down Un­der.

“The way we re­sponded both with ball and bat in the sec­ond in­nings was out­stand­ing, es­pe­cially the way we played last night in those con­di­tions. I thought we showed a lot of char­ac­ter, which is what you want to see in big se­ries like this.”

Eng­land’s prob­lem, he con­cedes, is that they must sus­tain their best cricket for longer to win Tests, though he does not equate this win­ter’s strug­gle so far with the 5-0 de­feat four years ago.

“The way we went about the sec­ond in­nings proved to ev­ery­one re­ally we are still mas­sively in this se­ries,” Root added. “We have shown through­out the two games that for pe­ri­ods we can out­per­form Aus­tralia, but just not for five days, and that is go­ing to be our chal­lenge.

“If we can get that right, and per­form to our abil­ity for longer pe­ri­ods of time, we will win games, sim­ple as that. The be­lief in the dress­ing room is def­i­nitely there.

“I don’t think we are in a sit­u­a­tion that we were last time we were here.”

Bayliss, who an­tic­i­pates field­ing an un­changed team for the third Test in Perth, is also still talk­ing a good game.

“We are cer­tainly not go­ing to give up and go home – we’ve got three more Tests,” he said. “If we keep play­ing the way we are, I think there’s enough frail­ties in the Aus­tralian team ... that we can ex­ploit that. They are cer­tainly beat­able.”

Root’s op­po­site num­ber, Steve Smith, en­dured flak for his de­ci­sion not to en­force the fol­low-on, and ad­mit­ted Eng­land did have him a lit­tle wor­ried.

He said: “I was a lit­tle bit ner­vous at the end of play. It’s been a pretty tough 24 hours ... they fought very hard and gave us a lit­tle fright.”

Even so, he does not give great cre­dence to a se­ries fight­back from the tourists.

“It’s al­ways tough com­ing back from 2-0 down, es­pe­cially when you’re away from home,” added Smith.

“You can only be one or two bad ses­sions away from los­ing the se­ries. I think that can play on peo­ple’s minds.”

Aus­tralia have added all­rounder Mitchell Marsh to their squad for the third Test, in place of seamer Chadd Say­ers.

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