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Ashes: Root, Malan take England to 233/5 on Day 1

Joe Root and Dawid Malan struck a half-century each as England posted 233/5 against Australia.

IANS | Sydney |

Skipper Joe Root (83) and Dawid Malan (55 batting) struck a half-century each as England posted 233/5 against Australia on the opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Thursday.

Malan, who notched up his fifth Test half-century, remained unbeaten in his 160-ball innings which contained five boundaries when umpires called it a day.

For Australia, pacers Pat Cummins (2/44) and Josh Hazelwood (2/47) returned two wickets each.

Two late wickets with the second new ball brought about a dramatic downturn in England’s fortunes.

Australian pacer Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood dismissed Root and Jonny Bairstow (5) in successive overs, ruining what had otherwise been a moderately good day for the visitors.

Bairstow was dismissed off the final ball of an extended day after rain had washed out the morning session. Just eight balls earlier, England were sitting pretty at 228 for three, with Root and Dawid Malan adding 106 runs after tea.

After England opted to bat, they saw their 28-run opening stand broken after Cummins had Mark Stoneman (24) caught behind off a short delivery that seamed away from the left-hander.

James Vince (25) joined opener Alastair Cook (39) thereafter, and the duo added 60 runs in just under 20 overs before Cummins returned to make another breakthrough — the former slashed unnecessarily at a wide delivery outside his off stump, and was caught behind.

Cook looked to have played himself in and had reached 39 after soaking up 108 deliveries, but four overs after Vince’s dismissal, Hazlewood had Cook rapped on the knee-roll. Joel Wilson, the umpire, turned down Australia’s appeals, but the home side were successful with their review and England were reduced to 95 for three.

It was then that Root and Malan came together. They navigated England to tea at 122 for 3, and on resumption put together 134 runs for the fourth wicket.

It was a test of perseverance and patience for Malan in particular — he took more than nine overs to add to his tally of 16 at tea.

Root brought up his 36th half-century off 82 balls with an exquisite square-drive off Mitchell Marsh.

Nathan Lyon then nearly had Malan dismissed, but Steve Smith’s failure to latch-on to an outside edge at slip meant Malan could go on to bring up his own fifty, off 146 balls.

Starc, however got rid of his man with a full, swinging delivery on middle and leg that prompted Root to flick straight to Mitchell Marsh, who did well to hold on to the catch with the diving effort at square leg.

Hazlewood then induced Bairstow’s outside edge in the next over, after peppering the first three deliveries outside his off-stump.

Brief scores: England 233/5 (Joe Root 83, Dawid Malan 55 batting; Pat Cummins 2/44) against Australia.