Aussies take 2 late wickets; England 233-5 at stumps, day 1
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s pace attack took two late wickets with the new ball to reduce England to 233-5 at stumps and wrest back control on a dramatic first day of the fifth Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
After winning the toss and batting after a two-hour rain delay, England slipped to 95-3 before skipper Joe Root and Dawid Malan shared a 133-run partnership that frustrated the Australian bowlers for most of the evening session.
But with the sun setting and the new ball in hand, Mitchell Starc had Root caught by Mitch Marsh at square leg for 83 in the penultimate over and then Josh Hazelwood had new batsman Jonny Bairstow caught behind with the last ball of the day.
“It was great to get the late reward as a bowling group for our hard toil,” Australia allrounder Mitch Marsh said.
“Two three-hour sessions really took it out of us, certainly in that last hour, it felt pretty long. So to get those two wickets was great for our confidence and we’ve got a two-over new ball tomorrow, so hopefully we can get stuck into them.”
Root, in particular, appeared disconsolate as he left the field after batting for 4 1/2 hours and in sight of his first century of the series, after scoring three 50s in the first four tests. The England captain now has converted just 13 hundreds from 48 half-centuries.
“I thought Rooty played fantastically well up to that point, the second new (ball) is always a challenge,” Malan said. “Unfortunately he clipped that to square leg and if it was two or three yards to left or right it would have been four and everybody would have said ‘great shot’.”
Despite riding his luck at times including being dropped by Steve Smith at slip and nearly run out in the space of two Nathan Lyon overs, Malan was not out 55 at stumps and will need to stay at the crease with the lower order to give England any hope of salvaging one win in the series after surrendering the Ashes with losses in the first three tests.
“Losing these two wickets has put us back a bit, but there’s still no reason why if we can’t get through that new ball tomorrow we can’t get to another 150 runs,” said Malan, who has a century and three 50s in his debut Ashes series.
After the first session was lost to passing showers, Australia’s quick bowlers made early inroads into the top order after lunch with Pat Cummins claiming the first two wickets, having Mark Stoneman (24) and James Vince (25) caught behind.
Alastair Cook, who scored an unbeaten 244 in the drawn fourth test in Melbourne last week, continued his good form in Sydney, reaching 39 before being trapped lbw by Hazlewood, just five runs short of being only the sixth player to tally 12,000 test runs.
Hazlewood pinned the veteran opener on his front pad and had the initial not-out decision overturned by the TV umpire on review to leave England at 95-3 and the majority of the near 45,000 Sydney Cricket Ground crowd delighted.
Only Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs), Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289), Rahul Dravid (13,288) and Kumar Sangakkara (12,400) have more test runs than the 33-year-old English batsman, who will likely get another opportunity to reach the milestone in the second innings.
Each team made one change from the fourth test, with England handing leg-spinner Mason Crane his debut for the injured Chris Woakes, and left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc returned from a heel injury to replace Jackson Bird for Australia.