That brings us to the close of the MCG Test. It promised a lot and it seemed like England have a good chance of winning the game but the hosts showed great temperament and composure to salvage a draw. The tourists have avoided a clean sweep and will be aiming to come out all guns blazing in the final Test in Sydney. Expect Australia to give it their all as well. Join us for the final Test on 4th January at 1030 local (2330 GMT, previous day) to catch all the action. Let's hope 2018 begins with a bang. Wish you all a Happy New Year in advance. Till then, cheers and enjoy!
Australia skipper, Steven Smith says that it is good to get a draw. Adds that Mitchell Marsh did a good job and ate up a lot of balls to help their cause. Mentions that it was a pretty slow wicket and it was tough to get the batsmen out. Adds that reverse swing did come into play but it was a nice wicket to bat on. Appreciates Cook for his double ton. Adds that the English opener was good with his shots down the ground and also admires his cuts and pulls. Informs that Starc still remains uncertain for the next game. Ends by saying that he is really looking forward to the final Test at his home ground (Sydney).
England skipper, Joe Root starts by saying that they were really well placed at Lunch today and had a good opportunity. Credits Steven Smith for his outstanding innings. Adds his counterpart is in great form and it is very difficult to get him out. Informs the pitch had nothing on it which only made the task all the more difficult for their bowlers. Reckons they exhausted every option and tried whatever they could to win. Appreciates the support that they got from The Barmy Army throughout the course of the game and calls it as the best fan group in the world. Is proud of his boys as it wasn't easy for them to come into this game with 0-3 down but the way his team played, he hopes that they can put up a similar show in the next match.
Man of the Match, Alastair Cook is happy with the double ton but feels if they could have pushed for a win, it would have pleased him even more. States it's been a tough tour for him and is happy to get a big one here. Opines it was a good wicket to bat on and had hardly anything for the bowlers. Hopes that they go well in Sydney too.
The home side was under pressure to deliver. They lost two quick wickets fairly early but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The two best Australian batsmen, Warner and Smith joined forces. The rain came down pelting in the afternoon session on Day 4, proving to be a blessing in disguise for them. One and a half sessions got washed out and with that, England's chances of forcing a win diminished. The visitors failed to get early wickets in the morning today and the home side gradually moved into the lead. Two quick wickets before lunch did give the Englishmen a glimmer of hope but Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh came out on top to close the game on even terms. Stay with us as the presentation is coming up...
England responded well with the bat. The two most experienced campaigners, Cook and Root took it upon them. It was the ex-English skipper who was in the thick of things. He mixed caution with aggression by scoring a majestic double ton and carried his bat through. Cummins, Hazlewood and Lyon bowled their hearts out, got rewards as well but Cook's 100-run 9th wicket stand with Stuart Broad deflated the morale of the opposition, thereby earning the tourists a 164-run lead.
Earlier, after Australia won the toss and opted to bat, the opening pair of David Warner and Cameron Bancroft gave them an ideal foundation. The former carried on to score a breezy ton, courtesy some lady luck (as he got caught off a no ball on 99). Credit to Smith as he batted with a sore bottom hand and played a sensible knock but it was a rare occasion to see him not converting his fifty. After his departure, there was a collapse, which meant that they finished with a below-par total on a placid surface, losing 7/67. Broad and Anderson were the wreckers-in-chief in inflicting the same.
The Australian skipper has once again responded under pressure, an uncharacteristic knock from him but just shows the versatility of this man. Putting the team above oneself came to the fore and he bailed his side out of shallow waters. It was Warner who gave him really good support to carry on the blockathon-love-saga but faltered against the part-time spin of Root and threw his wicket away. During that period, the English bowlers had their tails up and ran in with intent, especially Anderson and Broad. Shaun Marsh departed in quick succession as well but the Aussie skipper was as cool as a cucumber. He combined with Mitchell Marsh to defy the Englishmen and did that with a lot of authority.
That's it! Steven Smith has decided that it is enough. The opposition skipper agrees as well and there are customary handshakes all around. It proved to be a tame DRAW in the end but there were some action-packed highlights in this match. Cook's double ton stands out but Smith's ton to save the game for his side is also worth in gold. The English players are facing towards The Barmy Army and are appreciating their unconditional support.
Moeen Ali to Mitchell Marsh
Sits deep in the crease and works it to the leg side.
Tossed up delivery, Marsh comes forward and blocks it.
Joe Root to Steven Smith
Tossed up delivery, Smith lunges forward in defense.
Fuller in length, Smith's blocks it yet again.
A loud shout for an LBW denied! Fullish around leg stump, Smith tries to flick it but is pinged on the pads. Root's shout is not paid any heed to.
Plays this one with the spin to mid-wicket.
Four Byes! This one takes off from one of the rough patches around the leg stump. Smith tries to sweep it hard but misses. The keeper is beaten as well and the ball races to the fence behind.
On middle and leg, defended towards short leg.
Joe Root returns for a bowl.
Quick and flat, answered with a straight bat.
Spinning in sharply from wide outside off, Marsh lunges forward to defend but misses to get pinged on the pads. A chirpy appeal for an LBW follows but the umpire stays put. The impact was miles outside off.