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Australia closes in on first Test victory

Australia closes in on first Test victory

Pakistan Press Club – BRISBANE: Australia is headed for victory in the first Ashes Test, with an unbeaten opening partnership putting the home side on the verge of success with a day to go.

At stumps on day four, Australia was 0-114, with David Warner not out on 60 and Cameron Bancroft unbeaten on 51.

Earlier, England was dismissed for 195, leaving Australia with a target of 170 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Australia

Australia closes in on first Test victory

England had resumed on 2-33, and captain Joe Root — who had been hit in the helmet late on day three — showed no signs of nerves, getting off to a strong start.

He hit a couple of excellent fours off Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, as the tourists quickly reached 50.

Steve Smith brought on Nathan Lyon for some spin, and to support the quicks at the other end.

Mark Stoneman had played quietly through the morning on Sunday aside from a streaky four through the slips, but he met his match in Lyon, who produced a brilliant ball to draw Stoneman into a forward prod that took the edge and went to Smith, who took a good catch at slip.

He was out for 27, and England was 3-62.

David Malan came to the crease, hoping to add to his first innings 50. The pressure rose, with Australia seeking a second breakthrough, and England desperate to push on to give their bowlers something to defend later in the Test.

Root swung at a few deliveries, but he was earning his runs in singles.

Lyon swiftly struck again, however, getting one to straighten and Malan edged to slip to depart for 4.

Suddenly the tourists were 4-74 — effectively 4-48 — and needing a big captain’s knock from Root more than ever.

Lyon’s deliveries were turning sharply and beating new batsman Moeen Ali, while Mitchell Starc hit Ali on the glove but the ball looped away and fell just short of the fielders.

Ali started to open up and play his shots, and Root got to his 50 with a two to mid-wicket, but the very next ball — with lunch imminent — Josh Hazlewood slanted a ball in on middle and leg and struck the captain on the pad.

Given out, Root considered the merits of a review before eventually trudging off for 51 as Australia had the vital breakthrough. The English were five down at lunch, still leading by only 91.

Ali and wicketkeeeper Jonny Bairstow came out in positive fashion after lunch, with Ali crunching two fours off the opening over from Lyon.

Bairstow also chipped in with some boundaries, and when he flicked Lyon over cow corner for six, England was picking up speed in their bid to extend the lead.

Hazlewood returned to the attack to try and strike again, but the next big moment came off a delivery from Lyon, who sent the ball past a push from Ali.

Tim Paine moved smartly to whip the bails off, but it looked a desperately close thing. It went up to the third umpire, and after numerous zooms and replays the decision came back that Ali had got his foot on the line but not behind.

He departed for 40, and Australia had England at 6-155.

With all-rounder Chris Woakes at the other end, the pressure was on Bairstow to lead the way.

The pair moved the score on to 184, but then Woakes (17) fended a short ball from Starc to Smith at second slip.

Right before tea, Starc bowled one to Bairstow (42), who tried to ramp it over the slips and only succeeded in hitting it down Peter Handscomb’s throat at third man. It was 8-194, and England led by just 168.

 

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