Australia in driver’s seat in final Ashes Test
Sydney, Jan. 6 (IANS): Australia tightened their grip over England in the fifth and final Ashes Test by finishing the third day at 479/4, a lead of 133 over Englands 346 at the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Saturday.
At stumps, the Marsh brothers, Shaun (98) and Mitchell (63), accompanied each other, with Shaun just two runs away from his second century of the series.
The day, however belonged to Usman Khawaja, who registered his maiden Ashes century. Khawaja brought up his hundred off the 233rd ball he faced as Australia went into lunch at 277/3, with Khawaja on 132.
Skipper Steve Smith (83) was dismissed at the stroke of lunch, when he pushed a Moeen Ali delivery back to the bowler, thereby giving the Englishman his fourth wicket of the series.
Smith and Khawaja had, by that point, added 81 runs to Australia’s overnight total of 193/2 and 188 runs in total for the third wicket.
England went wicketless in the second session as Khawaja and Shaun Marsh added 88 runs, a stand that saw Australia claim the lead by the time tea arrived.
The home side also had their share of luck in the second session, when Shaun was even given out caught behind off Joe Root, but it was found on review that there was a significant gap between bat and ball and the decision was overturned.
Then, in the final over of the session, Mason Crane, the debutant legspinner, thought he had his maiden international wicket when he trapped Khawaja in front.
Khawaja didn’t offer a shot and padded away the delivery, and the appeal was turned down by the umpire. England decided to review, only to realise it would have been out had Crane not overstepped.
Crane finally had his man early in the final session, when Jonny Bairstow had Khawaja stumped after he was deceived by sharp turn.
That remained the only positive for England though as the Marsh brothers batted aggressively to help take England’s lead past the 100-mark.
There was still some drama though as Mitchell was rapped on the pads by Tom Curran and was given out by Joel Wilson, the umpire. England’s joy was short-lived though as the third umpire, on an Australia’s review, adjudged that there was an inside-edge.
Brief Scores: England first innings: 346 vs Australia first innings: 479/4 (Usman Khawaja 171, Steve Smith 83, Shaun Marsh 98 batting, Mitchell Marsh 63 batting).