DateLine: 11th July 2015
By Andy Jalil at Sophia Gardens
England in commanding position in first Ashes Test
Cardiff – After a day which saw fifteen wickets fall for 333 runs, with seven of those wickets tumbling in the last session of play for 140, Australia find themselves with a major task to avoid defeat in the first Test. With two days remaining they trail by 411 runs as England reached 289 before being dismissed by close of play.
England began the second innings with a substantial lead of 122 but lost two wickets within the first 10 overs. Alastair Cook sliced his drive from a ball of full length from Mitchell Starc for a catch at point and three overs later Gary Ballance went without scoring in the first over after lunch. He was held behind off his gloves when he decided late to leave the ball from Josh Hazelwood.
In the next ten overs England took the total to 73 with a 51-run stand between Adam Lyth and Ian Bell before Lyth, on 37, played a ball from Nathan Lyon which he should have left well outside off stump and Michael Clarke, diving full length at slip held a superb catch.
Ian Bell and Joe Root combined to bring some stability to the innings. Bell began watchfully and then went for the attacking strokes. He took his score to 31 with a lofted sweep for four off Lyon after he had driven the previous ball to the mid-wicket boundary. Roots first three scoring shots were fours, off Johnson to square leg and two off Hazelwood, a powerful cut to point and a well-timed push past gully.
On 49, a square drive to the point boundary by Bell brought him his first half century in ten innings and 40 of those runs had come from fours. Their stand of 97 was broken by a superb ball from Mitchell Johnson which beat Bell on the crease as it seamed away to hit off stump. Root went on to reach his twelfth Test half century, driving Johnson to the extra-cover boundary beautifully off the back foot and in the same over took another four at cover.
England lost the fifth wicket on 207 with Josh Hazelwood bowling Root on 60 off his back pad. Thereafter England lost three wickets for nine in a space of 15 balls. Lyon removed Jos Buttler as he attempted a reverse sweep, four runs later Ben Stokes on, 42, played-on to Mitchell Starc and Lyon had Stuart Broad held at long. Moeen Ali’s was the ninth wicket to fall on 288 before Lyon wrapped up the innings with the wicket of James Anderson to finish with four for 75. Mark Wood remained unbeaten after his lusty hitting brought 32 from 18 balls.
Resuming on 264 for five, the Australia batting fell apart with all five wickets falling in less than 15 overs for just 44 as James Anderson and Broad picked up two each. It enabled Anderson to finish with three for 43. With Australia trailing by 166 at the start of the day, Michael Clarke’s hope of a decent total would have rested on Shane Watson his only recognised batsman left in the order.
But it took England just ten balls to claim Watson’s wicket as Broad trapped him lbw after just one run had been added and then, on the same total, Lyon was pinned right in front of the stumps by Mark Wood. Brad Haddin and Johnson took the total to 304 when Anderson found the outside edge of Haddin’s bat for a catch behind.
In the next over, Johnson on 14 chipped Broad into the hands of short mid-wicket. The two wickets had fallen in two balls for the addition of 4 runs. Root’s fine catch at third slip, diving to his left to take Starc’s drive, off Anderson, ended the innings on 308, a considerable deficit of 122.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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