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Sydney spoils up for grabs - Johnson

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Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson picked up the wickets of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen to check England's progress at the SCG

Australia seamer Mitchell Johnson believes the final Ashes Test is “in the balance” following a topsy-turvy second day at the SCG.

Johnson contributed a valuable half-century as the hosts recovered from 189 for eight to post 280 in their first innings.

The left-armer then removed Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, the latter falling shortly before the close, as England ended the day on 167 for three, with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 61 alongside nightwatchman James Anderson.

When questioned about his side’s bowling display, Johnson responded: “I think we started off a little bit inconsistent but finished the day really well and we go in with a lot of confidence now.

“England got off to a pretty good start and we weren’t consistent with our lengths and lines, where as they bowled very well in the last day and a half.

“But towards the end I thought we did well and tightened things up a bit. We got a couple of late wickets and it’s probably in the balance at the moment.

Mitchell Johnson

Johnson had played a significant role with the bat earlier in the day, striking five fours and a six in a swashbuckling innings of 53

“I think we can still win, with the way we bowled this afternoon. If they get somewhere near our score I think it’s going to be game on.”

England would already be on the brink of surpassing Australia’s total were it not for an impressive show of defiance from Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus.

The duo shared 76 for the ninth-wicket to lift the home side’s spirits, with Johnson striking five fours and a six in his 53.

“Myself and Ben Hilfenhaus had a good partnership down the lower order and that was very important for us,” Johnson added.

“To put those runs on like we did definitely helped us.”

Johnson was then entrusted with the new ball by stand-in captain Michael Clarke and returned figures of 2-42 from 12 overs.

The 29-year-old’s performances have veered from the sublime to the ridiculous throughout the series, yet he is keen to play down his inconsistency.

“When I’m not at my best, in the eyes of a lot of people it’s pretty horrible,” he added.

“To me it’s not all that bad but I have had games where I have been terrible and I can put my hand up to those ones.

“I think I do find that in between and I guess it’s just everyone has their opinion.”

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