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Ashes 2017-18, 1st Test, Day 2 – 5 Talking Points

Australia ended the day on 165/4 137 adrift of England's total.

Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh
Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh of Australia walk from the ground at stumps during day two of the First Test Match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The first Ashes Test has been interestingly poised after the end of play on the second day with both teams looking to dominate each other. The Australian skipper Steve Smith is looking solid along with Shaun Marsh in the middle as the duo has so far added 89 for the fifth wicket. The day was once again filled with action and there were also few verbal volleys thrown at each other by the players. However, the honours are evenly shared after the first two days and the first session of the third could turn the tide for either of the sides.

England were bowled out for 302 before lunch after owning the first half of the session. Dawid Malan scored a half-century on his Ashes debut but his wicket led to the collapse as they lost their last six wickets for just 56 runs. Australia too were in trouble at 76/4 as the poms bowled well at them. But the final session was won by the hosts as only Peter Handscomb was dismissed early on.

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Here we bring you the 5 talking points of the day’s play:

1. Malan and Moeen share a crucial stand

Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali resumed to bat on the second day and looked comfortable against the new ball which was just 3 balls old overnight. Both of them pounced on the full deliveries presented by the Aussie bowlers. Moreover, the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins lacked the intent which worked in favour of the duo. Dawid Malan reached his half-century in the process and threatened to take the game away from Australia. They added 83 crucial runs for the fifth wicket before Malan was dismissed by Starc of a short delivery.

2. Short-ball tactics work yet again

Aussies were visibly frustrated after failing to break-through in the first hour and England were looking to post a good total on the board. But soon after the drinks, they opted for the short-ball theory which worked perfectly for them in 2013. First, it was Malan who tried to pull the short ball from Starc which got big on him and was caught in the deep. Then Jonny Bairstow also tried the same shot and top-edged off Cummins after which Stuart Broad was also sent back which eventually ended England’s innings.

3. Verbal volleys heat up the action

There was a lot of trash talk leading up to the series and it was also expected that the players would have a go at each other on the field. James Anderson faced the chin music first as he walked out to bat and David Warner had something to tell him. The pacers Cummins and Starc also tried to get under the skin of Stuart Broad and Anderson as Warner continued to torment them from the slip cordon.

Though the favours were returned to him in response when the roles were reversed. Both the bowlers took a subtle dig at the left-handed opener when he came out to bat and was a little bit uncomfortable at the start. The verbal volleys certainly heated up the action in the middle as the spectators witnessed another superb day of Test cricket.

4. Khawaja’s woes against spin continue

Usman Khawaja’s shortcomings against the spin bowling is no secret now and with the ball turning square from day 1, it was going to be tough for him to survive. Joe Root brought Moeen Ali as soon as the first wicket fell and attacked the left-hander. Khawaja as expected looked all at sea even against the seam bowling and apparently was short of confidence. However, he was eventually dismissed by the delivery which didn’t turn and was caught plumb in front. His place in the team was also questioned by Shane Warne on air while commentating pointing out his inability to play the tweakers.

5. Smith and Marsh end the day strongly for hosts

Australia were in deep trouble at 76/4 when Marsh and Smith came together to resurrect the innings. The former struggled in the early stages of his knock against spin but then settled down. They endured a tough period when the runs didn’t come at all but played patiently. Though the duo started pouncing on the freebies offered occasionally and made themselves comfortable during their stay. Their partnership helped the hosts come back in the game as England failed to breach their defence.

Steve Smith, in particular, was fluent in his stay and was supported well by Marsh. They had stitched a partnership of 89 when umpires called stumps with the former unbeaten on 64 and the latter on 44.

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