Brisbane: Australia clinched a strong nine-wicket victory over the Joe Root-led England on Day 4 to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match Ashes series.
After a tricky Day 3, where Joe Root and Dawid Malan showed grit and perseverance in pulling England back in the match after conceding a large first-innings deficit, Australia came out in a strong fashion on the fourth morning, bowling England out for 297, with the last eight wickets falling for 77 runs.
Australia, requiring just 20 for victory, raced to the target early into the second session of the day, to take a 1-0 lead.
Resuming from 220/2 in 70 overs, England added just three runs to their overnight score when they lost their first wicket of the day, with Malan hitting a bat-pad catch to Marnus Labuschagne at silly mid-off for Nathan Lyon’s 400th Test wicket, ending the 162-run partnership. Off-spinner Lyon became the 17th bowler to reach the milestone, and the third Australian, after Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
After his agonising wait of 326 days to reach the milestone, Lyon got his 401st wicket in a matter of few minutes, dismissing Ollie Pope, who gloved a catch to first slip, for just four.
But the most vital wicket of the day was wedged between Lyon’s double-blow. Cameron Green, brought on before the new ball, forced a false shot from England skipper Joe Root on 89, with Alex Carey taking one of his eight catches in his first Test.
Carey’s eight is a record for catches on Test debut, and was excellent behind the stumps, backing up the work of Australia’s quicks, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who showed little respite, according to icc-cricket.
Root fell 11 short of his first Test hundred in Australia. His dismissal triggered a collapse from which England never recovered though Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes did try to resurrect the innings.
After the new ball came into play, Cummins squared up all-rounder Stokes, who fell for 14, while the Buttler cameo ended with him being dismissed by Hazlewood, as the right-handed batter fiddled outside his off-stump on 23.
Lyon, finding the rhythm that brought his tally to the 400-mark, cleaned up the tail, adding two more wickets against his name to end with figures of 4/91 in 34 overs. Green brought the curtains on England’s implosion by having Chris Woakes nicking behind to Carey.
Requiring just 20 for victory, after the lunch break, Carey joined Marcus Harris to open, with a rib injury cloud looming over opener David Warner.
Carey edged to keeping counterpart Buttler for nine in the chase off Ollie Robinson, with Harris finishing off the job in four days with a boundary through point off Mark Wood.
Cummins was undoubtedly a happy man with his team’s performance. “Really proud of everyone. A really complete performance, the bowlers did everything on day 1 and Marnus-Davey with a big partnership and the way Travis played, it is a sign of a really positive group.”
Root, on the other hand, rued that his partnership with Malan couldn’t go on for long. “We worked really hard to get back in the game last night and we knew that if we got through the new-ball unscathed and carried that partnership forward, we would really give ourselves a good opportunity to go on and post some sort of total which would’ve kept us in the game.”
Focus now shifts to the second Test at the Adelaide Oval for the day-night affair with the pink ball, starting from December 16.
Brief scores: England 147 & 297 in 103 overs (Joe Root 89, Dawid Malan 82; Pat Cummins 2/51, Mitchell Starc 1/77; Nathan Lyon 4/91, Cameron Green 2/23) lost to Australia 425 and 20/1 in 5.1 overs (Marcus Harris 9 not out, Ollie Robinson 1/13) by nine wickets.