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Ashes 1st Test: Australia take first step towards regaining the urn

Ashes 1st Test
Steve Smith

What was shaping up to be a tight contest, ended up being a rather one-sided one. The Ashes 1st Test kept both England and Australia in the game but at the end, the hosts just raised their game a few notches and took the early honors. The Three Lions had a great chance of taking command but the opposition skipper did what he does best.

It was a Test that belonged to Steve Smith. His superlative knock in the first innings bailed the side out of trouble and brought them back into the game. Then, the bowlers did the job beautifully to halt the English side, which is reeling in the absence of Ben Stokes. At the end, the Australian openers simply stamped the authority to clinch the game.

England threw away the advantage

Initially, Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first but England didn’t get off to an ideal start as Alastair Cook was removed by Mitchell Starc for just 2. But then 2 youngsters Mark Stoneman and James Vince held the fort and stitched together a stand of 125 runs as both scored fifties. Root missed out and departed after scoring just 15.

From 127/1, the visitors moved to 163/4 and lost the plot. Dawid Malan then made a half-century and added 83 runs alongside Moeen Ali. But as the duo was dismissed, the remaining batsmen fell shortly as England were bowled out for 302. Starc and Cummins bagged 3 wickets apiece while Lyon claimed 1.

Smith’s masterclass

In reply, Australia were off to a horrible start as Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Peter Handscomb departed in quick successions and the hosts were struggling at 76/4. Smith found support from Shaun Marsh as the duo added 99 runs for the 4th wicket. Marsh departed after scoring 51 and once again, the Aussies were in danger of conceding a big lead.

Smith was adamant to stay firm as he kept scoring runs despite regular wickets falling at the other end. At 209/7, Pat Cummins joined his leader in the middle and gave him great company. Smith kept piling on the runs and went past the 3 figure mark and stayed unbeaten at 141 off 326 balls as rest others fell from the other end. Australia were bowled out for 328 gaining a slender lead of 26 runs.

Australian bowlers delivered the knockout punch

The lead wasn’t big and England had a chance of putting pressure on the opposition with a solid batting display. But the Australian bowlers had other ideas as they came out firing all cylinders. Cook fell early again and this time, Stoneman and Vince couldn’t repeat the performance of the first innings.

Root played a good hand and seemed as if he would match the knock of Smith but as Josh Hazlewood trapped him in front for 51, the Kangaroos had a foot in the door already. Despite Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow’s resistance, the bowlers were relentless and bundled the Englishmen out for 195.

Warner-Bancroft’s solid chase

Chasing 170 in the final innings can be tricky on most occasions. But the pitch, as well as the English bowlers, didn’t have much to offer. David Warner and Cameron Bancroft didn’t give even a sniff to the bowlers. While Bancroft was solid in his approach, Warner played in his usual demeanor.

Without any loss, the openers took the side past the line on the first session of the final day of the Test. A victory by 10 wickets meant Australia made giant strides towards regaining the Ashes. The Gabba was dominated by the hosts and with 4 more Tests to go, England need to pull up the socks big time.

Match Summary

England won the toss and opted to bat first

England 1st innings: 302/10 in 116.4 overs

James Vince 83, Dawid Malan 56

Mitchell Starc 77/3, Pat Cummins 85/3

Australia 1st innings: 328/10 in 130.3 overs

Steve Smith 141*, Shaun Marsh 51

Stuart Broad 49/3, James Anderson 50/2

England 2nd innings: 195/10 in 71.4 overs

Joe Root 51, Jonny Bairstow 42

Josh Hazlewood 46/3, Mitchell Starc 51/3

Australia 2nd innings: 173/0 in 50 overs

David Warner 87*, Cameron Bancroft 82*

Australia won by 10 wickets

Player of the Match: Steve Smith

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