Ashes 2017-18, 1st Test, Day 3: 5 Talking Points

Ashes 2017-18, 1st Test, Day 3: 5 Talking Points

England ended the day on 33/2 in their second innings.

Josh Hazlewood
Josh Hazlewood of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Alastair Cook of England during day three of the First Test Match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Another day of attritional Test cricket came to an end in Brisbane at the Gabba as Australia stayed on top after fighting hard in the first Ashes Test. Steve Smith’s magnificent unbeaten century gave the hosts as slender but crucial lead over the poms in the first innings. The second innings didn’t start well for England as Alastair Cook and James Vince were sent back with some hostile fast bowling from Josh Hazlewood. However, Joe Root and Mark Stoneman have kept their cool in the middle and would look to extend the lead.

Earlier in the day, the first session was owned by England with their fast bowling drying up the runs and picked up three wickets of the hosts. Smith though looked solid throughout and brought up his 21st Test century in style. Pat Cummins supported him well with a 42-run knock. Australia was eventually bowled out for 328 as the skipper remained unbeaten on 140 in which he hit 14 boundaries absolutely pleasant to the eyes.

Here we present you the 5 talking points of the riveting day of play:

1. England scalp three wickets in the first session

Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh had just brought the Aussies back in the game with a brilliant partnership on day 2. But England quicks came up with a new strategy in the morning session and dried up the runs considerably. In the process, Stuart Broad scalped Marsh with an off-cutter to break the frustrating partnership. Soon couple more wickets of Tim Paine and Mitchell Starc followed as England took a firm hold on the Test match with the score reading 209/7.

2. Steve Smith’s 21st Test century

Steve Smith, of all the batsmen from both sides, has been the only player who has looked comfortable on this Gabba track. After ending the day on 64 overnight, the skipper fought hard against the resilient England bowling attack. He only ran singles and averted playing the cover drive which had earlier snaffled Marsh. His patience was tested time and again by the opposition and Smith came out on top yet again.

Despite being in the 90s for a long time, he was unperturbed and didn’t throw his wicket away. Interestingly, the 29-year-old brought up his 21st Test century with the cover drive itself when Broad overpitched a full delivery. He remained unbeaten on 140 as his team was folded for 328 with a crucial lead of 26 runs. His heroic knock cold well be the difference between the two sides in the Ashes so far.

3. Tail wags yet again for Australia

The memories of 2013 resurfaced once again for England as they were unable to clean up the tail of the Aussie batting line-up. They had left the hosts reeling at 209/7 in the first session. But the last three wickets added 119 runs and turned the tables around. The likes of Cummins, Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon aided Smith excellently, with the number 9 batsman Cummins forming a partnership of 69 runs with the skipper. These runs are very important given the context of the match and England need to do better against them next time around.

4. Starc bouncer hits Root’s helmet

Amidst all the riveting action, there was a moment of scare for Aussies which brought back the memories of late Phillip Hughes. Mitchell Starc was fired up after his new-ball partner picked a couple of quick wickets at the fag end of the day. He bowled a searing bouncer to the opposition skipper Joe Root who was caught unaware with the bounce. He fended the delivery awkwardly only to get hit on the grill of his helmet.

The incident left the Australians worried and the bowler straight away walked towards Root to ask if he was fine. Smith and Warner also had a friendly chat with him and made him comfortable but the fear on their faces was clearly visible. Thankfully, Root was unflustered and only had to change his helmet as the skipper was ready to face the music again.

5. Aussie bowlers lit up the final hour

Australia looked pumped up after sneaking out a slender but crucial lead of 26 runs in the first innings over England. The intent was seen in their bowler’s stride as Hazlewood, who was not up to the mark on the first day, surprised Cook with a bouncer and snaffled him. Then he squared up Vince who was the best batsman for England with a beautiful delivery. Suddenly they were all over the visitors and every ball was looking like a wicket taking one. But Root and Stoneman managed to survive the tough period and remained unbeaten.