DateLine: 31st July 2015
By Andy Jalil at Edgbaston
England take lead in Ashes series with 8-wicket win
Birmingham – It’s been yet another enthralling Ashes Test in this intensely captivating series which sees England march on to the high ground with a lead of two Tests to one. With Australia dismissed for 265, England were set a winning target of 121 and after a little over a session’s play the unbroken third wicket stand of 73 between Ian Bell who was unbeaten with 65 and Joe Root 38 not out saw England triumphantly home by eight wickets.
England had just two overs to face before lunch and after the break Australia struck in the third over with Alastair Cook’s wicket. The England captain was bowled by a beautiful ball from Starc which came into the batsman and then curved away. Ian Bell was in aggressive mood clipping Starc to square leg and then steering him past gully in the first over he faced.
He went on to take three fours in one over from Starc again with a straight drive, followed by a powerful square drive to cover point and then a glance. The 50 of the England innings came after only nine overs with Bell playing another square drive past gully off Mitchell Johnson which took him to 32 from just 26 balls. But Australia hit back with the wicket of Adam Lyth for 12 when he was pinned in front of the stumps by Josh Hazelwood.
Bell and Root then took control, as they had done in the first innings when both hit half centuries. Bell was well set when Root joined him and the latter soon got into the runs with boundaries off his first two scoring shots. Both were stylish square drives off the back foot to cover point off Hazelwood.
Soon after Michael Clarke had dropped Bell with the total on 36 the Warwickshire man, playing on his home ground, struck a four off Starc to reach his 45th Test fifty off 68 balls. Root helped himself to a six off Nathan Lyan and in the same over Bell went to 57 with a square drive through the off side. With both batsmen in such excellent form there was no further success for the bowlers with Root joyfully hitting the winning boundary.
Although, at the start of the day, it was expected to be merely a question of time before England claimed the remaining three overnight wickets, little did many expect that Australia’s tail-enders would take nearly the entire first session before being dismissed. The credit for battling it out for 24.1 overs during which they hit 97 runs, would go to Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc who both completed half centuries.
Resuming on 168 for seven, Nevill on 37 attacked the England bowling straightaway with boundaries, the first two overs conceded 19 runs. Nevill progressed to 49 with a fortuitous edged four off Steve Finn before glancing the next ball to the fine leg boundary to bring up his maiden Test fifty from 126 balls in his second Test match.
On 53 he was lucky not to be given out caught behind off Stuart Broad when he had clearly edged behind. But the end for him was near as six runs later Jos Buttler brought off a fine leg side, one handed catch to give Finn his sixth wicket. The Middlesex man finished with six for 79, his best Test figures beating his previous best of 6 for 125. It had been a commendable innings from the Australia wicketkeeper, spanning a little over three hours.
Starc too played a valuable innings taking his score to 45 with a lofted straight four of Moeen Ali and two balls later a slog for six over wide mid-on brought him his fifth Test half century. But it was Ali, two overs later, who had him caught, driving to cover to wrap up the innings. Meanwhile Australia had lost Hazelwood for 11 when Root at third slip held an athletic overhead catch.
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