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England's thugs stumble again after James Anderson hit Australia's four for limits
 
Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland both strike twice in one over while Australia look to capitalize on their 82-run lead.
 

England 185 and 4 for 31 (Boland 2-1, Starc 2-11) behind Australia 267 (Harris 76, Anderson 4-33) with 51 runs

Some classic James Anderson bowling kept England competing on a busy second day of the Third Test at the MCG, only to falter the tourists' brittle clout in the face of a devastating lightning bolt from Australia's Quicks that pushed the hosts to the edge of the game Sealing the series.

Debutants Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc each claimed two wickets to crush England during a scintillating final hour, undoing the effect of Anderson's four-wicket haute that had temporarily given tourists hope.

With their warm-up routine thrown into chaos by four positive Covid tests on team members and their families that delayed their departure to the ground - and the start by half an hour - England showed the kind of bottle that was sorely missing as Australia raged led a 2-0 series to regain some control with the ball. After the English players passed the lateral flow tests that morning, they were released to play. After the end of the game, the English players were asked to undergo a PCR test, with the game being allowed to continue in the meantime.

And it was 39-year-old Anderson who made his international debut on the same level in an ODI in 2002 and led the way with two particularly stingy sayings that produced the important wickets of Steve Smith and Marcus Harris, who achieved the top points with 76, on either side of lunch.

Australia was thrown for 267, an 82 run lead in the first inning. But England's top order had no answers as Starc claimed two wickets in so many balls to bring them 2 to 7. As if the pressure on England captain Joe Root wasn't increased enough, he barely survived Starc's hat-trick ball, with an unplayable delivery hitting his outside edge.

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In the end, England was in disarray after Starc struck in the fifth over of the inning when he found Zak Crawley's outside edge caught by keeper Alex Carey for 5 and then held Dawid Malan lbw for a first ball duck.

Pat Cummins kept the pressure up during a stellar period while Boland came on for the penultimate over, allowing Haseeb to intercept Hameed with his third ball, then Night Watchman Jack Leach removed with a gem that fell back into one two balls later than the game more familiar rhythm as England stared at a serial defeat.

Root was unbeaten at 12 at the end of the day and Ben Stokes at 2, but as good as the English duo are able to get their side out of trouble, the mission went beyond those two.

When Anderson picked up the second new ball in the final session, Australia were eight wickets lower and leading at 51. He then threw himself in the air to stop a ball that was hit hard by Cummins and went safely on the head Border. And while his failure to hold on to it with his outstretched right hand was a drop, his efforts only added to the already formidable professionalism of England's Elder Statesman.

Anderson bowled 10 maidens on the way to his fetch of 4 for 33 out of 23 overs. After firing opener David Warner the night before, Anderson Smith bowled for just 16 after Ollie Robinson knocked out night watchman Nathan Lyon in the fourth round of day two. Smith fell in a great Anderson spell of 6-5-1-1, the only run that came from the first ball, an inside edge when Smith stood on 5, which Jos Buttler couldn't collect behind the stumps but parried with a fine leg.

Mark Wood also bowled well and struck with his third ball of the day when the dangerous Marnus Labuschagne was the first of Roots to fall three catches to slip with only 1. Pressured Harris left for lunch unbeaten at 48 after presenting an lbw decision to Ben Stokes when he was 36, with reps showing the bat was on the ball.

Australia made use of six runs from the first after lunch, rolled by Leach, and 10 of the second, from Wood, during which time Harris increased his third Test to fifty. The two bowlers' subsequent overs were tighter, but as if to ruin the fact that England were in danger of ruining the good morning's work, Buttler gave Harris an overwhelming chance when he was at 63. who saw him coming and shot the ball over the side of his leg, only to have Buttler put out his right glove in vain.

Robinson broke through to release Travis Head, who was captured by Root, and Anderson similarly left Harris three runs behind to get his best test result during another stellar four-over spell that resulted in just two runs.

Australia reached the top late in the middle session before Leach, after a hot spell in the hands of the Australian thugs in the opening test at the gabba, came back and captured Cameron Green lbw in the second run after tee.

Stokes removed Carey before Starc and Cummins added 34 runs for the ninth wicket, the third-highest partnership in Australia's innings. Anderson struck again in the fourth run with the new ball to dismiss Cummins, who was caught by Hameed at the time, and Wood had debutant Boland captured by Crawley to end the innings, which was worth it considering what was to come.