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Ashes player ratings: Alastair Cook and Moeen Ali struggle as Australia bowlers dazzle in Adelaide victory

Joe Root and England have a mountain to climb to get back in the Ashes series (Picture: Getty)

England’s defence of the Ashes is on the brink after Australia took a 2-0 lead in the 2017-18 series with a 120-run win in Adelaide.

Chasing an improbable 354, England began the final day’s play on 176-4 but lost six wickets in the first session to be bowled out for 233.

Following the humbling ten-wicket defeat at the Gabba, the result means Steve Smith’s side have taken complete control of the series with three Tests remaining.

But how did the players fare at the Adelaide Oval?

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Alastair Cook – 1/5

Battled to 37 in the first innings but was dismissed by off-spinner Nathan Lyon twice. England desperately need the former captain to go big but, at the age of 32 and after 149 Test matches, is he still up to the task?

(Picture: Getty)

Mark Stoneman – 2/5

Showed his array of strokes at times, clipping Mitchell Starc for three consecutive boundaries, but failed to build on promising starts and dropped Usman Khawaja on day one.

James Vince – 1/5

Scored a fluent 83 on day one of the opening Ashes encounter but made just 17 runs in Adelaide, sparking speculation over his place in the side. ‘That is why he’s going to struggle in Tests,’ Geoffrey Boycott said after his second-innings dismissal. ‘It didn’t swing, it didn’t seam – that is a give-away wicket.’

Joe Root – 2/5

Defended his decision to bowl first after winning the toss but it was surely a mistake as Australia piled on over 440. Scored a decent half-century on day four but at the start of day five perished, along with England’s hopes of winning the match.

(Picture: Getty)

Dawid Malan – 2/5

Only made 48 runs in the match but at least occupied the crease for a significant period of time and made the Aussies work hard for his wicket. Took a brilliant catch to dismiss Peter Handscomb.

Moeen Ali – 1/5

Run-less and wicket-less, the all-rounder endured another difficult match and continues to look vulnerable against Lyon. Branded England’s ‘weak link’ by Boycott.

Jonny Bairstow – 2/5

Unfortunate in both innings, with Mitchell Starc taking a stunning one-handed caught and bowled on day two before being stranded with the tail as Australia closed in on victory.

(Picture: Getty)

Chris Woakes – 3/5

Struggled on day one after England’s questionable toss decision, but finally made his mark on the series by taking four wickets in Australia’s second dig, claiming the scalps of Smith and David Warner.

Craig Overton – 4/5

Apart from the result, Overton could not have asked for much more during a brutal Test debut. Took four wickets in the match – including that of Smith – and was England’s first-innings top-scorer with an unbeaten 41.

Ashes schedule – the key dates

First Test: November 23-27 (Brisbane)

Second Test: December 2-6 (Adelaide)

Third Test: December 14-18 (Perth)

Fourth Test: December 25-29 (Melbourne)

Fifth Test: January 3-7 (Sydney)

Stuart Broad – 2/5

Bowled economically throughout the match but was unable to provide Root with the early wickets he was desperately searching for.

James Anderson – 3/5

Having been criticised for his performance first up, Anderson showed his class in favourable conditions under lights, claiming his first five-wicket haul Down Under.

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Cameron Bancroft – 1/5

Unluckily run out on day one and fell cheaply second time around. Shelled two catching opportunities in the field.

David Warner – 2/5

Australia’s usually destructive opener has been strangely – and perhaps overly – defensive during the series and nicked Chris Woakes behind twice in the match when looking set for a substantial innings.

(Picture: Getty)

Usman Khawaja – 3/5

Frustrated the tourists with a patient fifty and got a gem of a delivery from James Anderson late on day four.

Steve Smith – 3/5

Appeared to get overly agitated at England’s sledging attempts and surely regrets his decision not to enforce the follow-on after his side were put under enormous pressure under the Adelaide lights. Wasted two reviews in the space of three balls, much to the delight of the Barmy Army. Still, led his team to another Ashes victory.

Joe Root stands firm in face of Aussie aggression as England keep Ashes hopes alive

Peter Handscomb – 1/5

Looked horribly out of touch in both innings, leading ex-Australia captain Ricky Ponting to suggest he will be dropped for the third match in Perth.

Shaun Marsh – 5/5

Named the Man of the Match for his unbeaten 126. Started slowly – only scoring 29 runs in one session – before opening up after passing fifty. Emphatically answered questions over his place in the side.

(Picture: Getty)

Tim Paine – 3/5

Has only ever scored one first-class century but, as was the case in Brisbane, make England toil away for his wicket with an important fifty. As always, his wicketkeeping was faultless.

Mitchell Starc – 4/5

Sometimes erratic, often threatening. Took eight wickets in the match, including a five-for in which he tore through England’s fragile tail to clinch victory.

Pat Cummins – 4/5

Appears to have put long-standing injury concerns behind him and is relishing his first home summer playing for Australia. Chipped in with three wickets and 55 valuable runs at number nine.

(Picture: Getty)

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Nathan Lyon – 4/5

Threatening to ‘end careers’ before the start of the series, Lyon is clearly enjoying himself against England’s batting line-up, which consists of six left-handers. Has the control and self-belief you would expect of a player who has become the leading wicket-taker of 2017.

Josh Hazlewood – 4/5

Compared to Australia hero Glenn McGrath in recent years, Smith admitted his seam bowler has looked off the pace at times against England. Hazlewood stood up when his team needed him most, however, taking two wickets with his first 11 balls this morning to dismiss Woakes and Root and put an end to England’s resistance.

MORE: Geoffrey Boycott claims Moeen Ali is England’s ‘weak link’ as Australia extend Ashes lead

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