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Australian fast bowler Scott Boland picked up right where he left off in the Boxing Day Test, snaring two quick wickets in his first spell of the fourth Ashes Test.
Boland made a historically successful Test debut on Boxing Day, claiming man of the match honours thanks to his improbably return of 6/7 in the Ashes-clinching second innings.
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The Victorian seamer was a key reason the home side retained the Ashes in record time, but his place in the side was far from guaranteed with the likes of Josh Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson knocking down the door.
Nevertheless, he retained his spot for the fourth Test and showed he will be extremely difficult to overlook for the final Test in Hobart as well thanks to his blistering opening spell in Sydney.
In just four overs after finally being thrown the ball thanks to a lengthy rain delay on day three, Boland walked off at lunch with figures of two wickets and no runs.
If you count his second innings masterclass at the MCG, it means Boland has taken an incredible nine wickets from his previous 56 deliveries, giving away just 17 runs in that span.
Any worries the MCG was simply a happy hunting ground for the Victorian were quickly dismissed when he clean bowled Zak Crawley for 18.
He struck again a short time later, removing England captain Joe Root for a duck courtesy of a sharp Steve Smith catch in the slips.
— Trent Copeland (@copes9) January 7, 2022
— Tulsen Tollett (@TulsenTollett) January 7, 2022
This is getting ridiculous now Scott Boland!! 😂 bloody big Victorian is killing it #ashes
— Beads (@BigNoseStu) January 7, 2022
#Ashes Joe Root (0) becomes England's first duck of 2022, caught in the slip cordon by Steve Smith off Scott Boland.
Australia had bowled seven successive maidens ahead of this over. Boland has 2-0 to go with his 6-7 in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne #AUSvENG
— Peter Wood (@gallowgate_pete) January 7, 2022
Fox Cricket commentator Mike Hussey said Boland must have been 'pinching himself' as his incredible run continued, while Mark Waugh was blown away by Boland's sheer accuracy.
According to the CricViz database, more than 55% of Boland's deliveries had been of either a good length or better.
“This is the most accurate bowling we’ve seen in the 15 years since they set it up,” Waugh said.
Scott Boland spell puts Australia in prime position in fourth Test
Rain delayed the start of play at the SCG on Friday, making it three days in a row that wet weather has caused issues.
Openers Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley, who both navigated five testing overs on day two thanks to a no-ball that cost Mitchell Starc a wicket, resumed at 12.10pm AEDT.
Hameed and Crawley extended their partnership into the 10th over, making it England's longest opening stand of the summer.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey put down a chance offered by Hameed on two, denying Starc another chance to break the opening partnership.
But the reprieve cost just four runs, with Hameed's dismissal to Starc igniting a stunning collapse of 4-14.
Crawley scored 18 and copped a nasty blow to the hand before misreading a delivery that seamed back and disturbed his off stump.
Australia declared at 8-416 late on day two after Usman Khawaja celebrated his recall with an impressive knock of 137.
The hosts hold an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.
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