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Rogers ton seals victory at MCG

Watson contributes unbeaten 83 after opener’s 116 as Australia canters to eight-wicket win in fourth Test

Rogers ton seals victory at MCG - Cricket News
Chris Rogers steers Australia to victory in the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne.
It will remain for England a Test that got away. Australia wrapped up victory at the MCG and a 4-0 lead in this Ashes series in three and a half days, as a Chris Rogers hometown century and a fine undefeated 83 from Shane Watson saw a potentially tricky 231 chased down with few alarms and eight wickets in hand on Sunday (December 29).
Even though the match was a dead rubber, this loss will smart for England, who on multiple occasions let chances slip. Having Australia’s first innings at 164 for 9 promised a lead of almost a hundred, only for the last pair to cut that in half. At 65 without loss in its own second innings, England still had the chance to set an imposing chase. Instead there was an implosion, with six wickets for five runs limiting that target to 231.

Even with Australia beginning the fourth day needing 201, England should have remained in the contest. But to triumph in a modest chase, the fieldsmen have to swarm the batting side, get in their faces, make them nervous, stop their scoring, take their chances, and make the batsmen second-guess themselves. As soon as the batsmen countenance failure, they’re halfway there.
England, however, was unable to grasp those chances or exert that pressure. The key factor in Matt Prior being dropped was his poor keeping at Perth, but Jonny Bairstow, the replacement keeper, missed Rogers twice. On 19, in the fourth over of the day, Rogers edged Stuart Broad to the keeper’s right but Bairstow failed to move. By the first over after lunch, Rogers had 81 when the keeper missed another Broad edge low to the ground.
In between, Alastair Cook dropped the simplest of slip chances from David Warner off Ben Stokes on 22. Warner only lasted four more overs, but the psychological effect of seeing England’s captain slump, head bowed toward the spilled ball, was never quite recovered from. Rogers, meanwhile, went on to 116 before finally being dismissed, six overs from the end.
When Warner was caught behind uppercutting at Stokes, making the score 64 for 1, it was England’s only chance to prise an opening. But Rogers had already been the more dynamic, with 39 to Warner’s 25, and five boundaries to two. He kept the scoring moving through the next few overs to take pressure off Watson, in the process moving past 50 for the second time in the match. 

Watson gave an impression of solidity from the outset. Having established an innings of 10 from 22 balls, Watson began to impose himself with twin boundaries from Tim Bresnan via drives straight and square. He also found the single consistently to keep the ends changing over and the deficit reducing. By lunch, Rogers had accumulated 81 and Watson a composed 36.
Cook, meanwhile, was running out of options. Joe Root had been brought on for the left-handed opening pair, but was persisted with ahead of Monty Panesar to the right-handed Watson. James Anderson was getting no swing, Broad lost pep after creating early chances. Stokes looked perhaps the most likely, but was also erratic, trying bumpers and yorkers every other ball.
Rogers celebrated his reprieve after the break with a glided boundary from Stokes, then collected twos and threes to move into the 90s. His hundred, though, came from one of the shots of the day, an expansive cover drive that beat the fieldsman for four. His 102 at that stage had taken only 135 balls, belying both Rogers’s reputation as a tortoise and the apparently stodgy pitch.
Watson raised his fifty three ball later with a back-cut four, then larruped the next one over Bresnan’s head. Rogers made it three from the over with a square drive. He passed his previous best of 110 with a cut from Stokes, but when Panesar was brought back for just his fifth over, he had immediate effect. Another cut took only the top edge, and Rogers walked back for 116, acknowledging the standing ovation of a 40,000-strong crowd. With only 31 runs left to score, it was already known that he’d produced a match-winning innings. The partnership with Watson had been worth 136.
The departure signalled party time for the other partner, who smacked three boundaries from four Panesar deliveries on the cut, the heave and the straight drive. Michael Clarke then cut Stokes for four to pass 8000 runs in Tests; only the sixth Australian to do so, and remarkably reaching the landmark in the same match as Cook.
With 10 runs left, Watson tried to heave Bresnan over cover, but saw the skied shot fall out of Anderson’s reach. Then in Panesar’s next over the moment came, Watson pulling through square leg to the fence, though only the required two runs were credited to his total.
It was remarkable that next to the wreckage of England’s second innings, Australia’s had been so full of bonny vitality. Its lowest rated batsman had joined its most maligned to see them home. Clarke’s choice to bowl first had worked, albeit with some nervous moments. Aside from the win, the biggest boon was that his bowlers had been resting since the end of day three.
England has been blown away through the first three matches of this series, but only here was the side in a strong position to win. Even that was taken away, as this Australian side showed it can also win from behind. Remarkably, the teams now head to Sydney with a series whitewash well on the cards.

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