DateLine: 15th September 2019
By Andy Jalil at Kia Oval
England win final Ashes Test to level Series
It has been an enthralling contest and even though Australia, over the course of the five Tests, would be judged as having the edge over their opponents, there was little difference between the two sides. The only exception was Steve Smith who stood out above all with his extraordinary batting which brought him 774 runs in just seven innings with a marvellous average of 110.57.
In scoring 329 in their second innings, England set Australia a daunting winning target of 399 on a fourth day pitch which was increasingly taking spin. Apart from some resistance by the middle order batsmen, where stands of 63 and 44 took place for the fifth and seventh wickets respectively, Australia appeared unlikely to get the runs as England kept the pressure on from the start of the innings.
England removed the opening pair within the first seven overs. Stuart Broad sent Marcus Harris’ off stump cartwheeling for 9 with the total 18 and eleven runs later David Warner became Broad’s victim for the seventh time in the series. He fell to a fine third slip catch by Rory Burns as he played forward defensively to a ball on the off stump.
Marnus Labuschagne, who came into the series as a concussion substitute for Smith in the second Test, and proved to be the find of the series for Australia, both as a batsman and useful leg spinner, became the first victim of a stumping in the series. He played forward to Jack Leach and was a fraction out of the crease when David Bairstow did the rest.
Australia total had advanced by 29 runs after Labuschagne’s dismissal when England claimed the wicket that, by far, mattered most to them. Smith, after a tremendously successful series with the bat which included a double century, two centuries and other scores of 92, 82 and 80. This time he fell for 23 as he turned a ball from Broad to leg and was held at leg gully.
Matthew Wade and Mitchel Marsh put on 63 for the fifth wicket during which Marsh twice survived being dismissed. Once the ball hit the ground and boot of a fielder before being held, as the replay showed, and the other occasion was when Broad no-balled, stepping over the line. His wicket finally fell to occasional bowler Joe Root when he was held at short square leg by Jos Buttler for 24. During the stand, Wade reached his fifth Test half century.
That was followed by a 52-run stand between Wade and the captain, Tim Paine, and just as the two hundred of the innings came up, Paine lost his wicket, lbw to Leach for 21 while Wade was going well on 78. He moved cautiously from the 56th over to the 69th when he finally reached his fourth Test century and the second of the series pushing Broad for a single and raising his arms to his team-mates on the balcony.
There wasn’t much to happen thereafter, three runs later the innings was wound up in two successive balls from Leach with Root taking two excellent catches which gave Leach a return of four for 49 from 22 overs. Jofra Archer was man of the match for his six for 62 in the first innings.
Earlier, it took Australia four-and-a-half overs at the start of the final day’s play to claim the wickets of the two overnight batsmen. Archer was snapped up behind off Pat Cummins in the second over without adding to his overnight score of 3. With two mighty sixes by Broad over mid-wicket, off Cummins, the England total had reached 329 before Nathan Lyon accounted for Leach’s wicket, having him held from a mistimed pull. With that wicket Lyon finished with four for 69 from 24.3 overs after going wicketless from his four overs in the first innings.
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