Broad’s Late Burst Gives England the Edge as Australia Chase 281

Credit: England Cricket Twitter

The pendulum continued to oscillate to and fro in the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston, and after four days, both Australia and England would think they were in with a chance to take a 1-0 lead in the series. At stumps, Australia were 107 for 3, needing a further 174 to seal a famous victory.

With about one hour to go for the end of day’s play, Australia seemed to be in the ascendancy as they had all ten wickets in hand. Just when it seemed as if the England fielders’ shoulders were drooping, Ollie Robinson bowled one a tad fuller and found just enough nibble to force David Warner to edge one behind for 36. Marnus Labuschagne, who replaced Warner at the crease, began his innings on the right note, reverse-sweeping Moeen Ali’s off-spin into the boundary boards a couple of times.

At that juncture, Stuart Broad turned out to be England’s hero as he bowled a fine spell to dismiss both Labuschagne and Steve Smith. Broad bowled a few deliveries that straightened a touch before going slightly wide of the crease to create a nice angle and draw Labuschagne into poking one to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps. Smith too was troubled by Broad’s tactics. Eventually, Broad dismissed Smith with the one that moved away slightly to take the edge. Bairstow to pouched another catch. Those two wickets certainly got the crowd going. In fact, before the series had started, Broad talked about how he had developed an away-going delivery for the likes of Labuschagne and Smith. On the big stage, he walked the talk by taking both the prized scalps.

Scott Boland, the nightwatchman, then survived a few nervy moments to ensure that Australia wouldn’t lose another wicket. Even the first two sessions had their share of drama and action. Joe Root had tried to reverse-scoop the first ball of the day bowled by Pat Cummins. He also succeeded in playing the reverse-scoop a couple of times against Boland, and that forced Cummins to change the field. But a lot of credit has to also go to Cummins and Nathan Lyon for not losing the plot against England’s Bazball tactics. 

Cummins cleaned up Ollie Pope with a brilliant inswinger. Root and Harry Brook then shared a timely stand of 52 before Root stepped out of the crease while facing Lyon and was stumped for 46. Brook was the dismissed by a brilliant catch from Labuschagne at midwicket. Bairstow, who had a few narrow escapes while facing Boland before the lunch break, then strung together an alliance of 46 with Ben Stokes. However, he also fell to Lyon, LBW. Incidentally, for a moment or two, Marais Erasmus, the umpire, looked like would turn down the loud appeal for lbw before rightly putting his finger up.

To make matters worse for England, Cummins dismissed Stokes LBW for 43. With the score reading 210 for 7, the lower order comprising Moeen, Robinson, Broad and James Anderson added some valuable runs to take England to a competitive score.

On the final day, England would hope for some early strikes. Broad’s pace colleague, Anderson, has looked a bit off-colour, and England need him to step up on the final day. Although it has to be said that England did fluff a chance off his bowling, with Khawaja getting a reprieve in the first over of the innings. Moeen’s finger problem also would be a cause for worry.

Perhaps, just like the first innings, England’s fielding woes would prove to be costly. Or England’s bowlers could find an extra gear on the last day. There is also the threat of rain, but it is expected to clear as the day progresses. Should it stay away, we could be in for a final to rival 2005, when England sneaked home by two runs.

Also Read: “I Would be Keeping Faith in Rohit”: Michael Clarke

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