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Ashes 2017-18, 3rd Test, Day 1 – 5 Talking Points

The day oscillated between England and Australia with the visitors ending in an advantageous position.

Mitchell starc Australia
Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Alastair Cook. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

England have been down and out after losing the first two Test matches. The third Test at the WACA in Perth is very crucial for England, nothing less than a win will do for them. Australia were absolutely fantastic in the opening two games but England have shown some character on the first day of the Test match.

The Brits won the toss and opted to bat. The day looked good for batting and the pitch was bouncy and fast, typical WACA. It was not easy to play the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood on such a wicket but England did well on the first day. They finished the day scoring 300 plus runs losing only four wickets. A maiden century for Dawid Malan and a fighting knock from Jonny Bairstow were the highlights. That said, let us look at the five talking points from day 1.

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1. Starc’s full and fast strategy

Mitchell Starc has been Australia’s premier bowler since Mitchell Johnson’s retirement. He has been absolutely phenomenal for them despite the injuries. Today he showed why he is one of the most feared bowlers in world cricket. The pace at which he was bowling was frightening. His strategy from the go was to bowl fast and full.

He was smashed for a few boundaries by Mark Stoneman but Alastair Cook was struggling. He continued with his plan and was rewarded for it sooner rather than later. Full deliveries were speeding in and Stoneman was hitting them but Cook missed one and was caught plumb in front. Starc got his reward and Cook’s milestone Test match started on a forgettable note for him.

2. Middle session havoc

England were playing well as they shared the first session with 91 on board after losing Cook and James Vince. However, they slipped in the post-lunch session. Starc, Hazlewood, and Cummins were absolutely spot on in the middle session as the pace and bounce did its trick. The partnership that the fast bowlers formed was commendable.

One was rattling the batter with short stuff while the other was beating them with length. Joe Root and Marc Stoneman couldn’t bear this and were sent packing. The skipper tried to steal a single down towards fine leg but the uneven bounce got the better of him. He gloved one to the leg side and Cummins got his reward. Stoneman departed to another short delivery. This was a controversial one but Aleem Dar was quick to make his decision as England were now reeling on 131 for 4.

3. Dropped catches

Australia is a fantastic fielding side but Day 1 of the third Ashes Test was not their day. There were as many as three dropped catches and that could turn out to be hazardous for them later in the Test match. Mitchell Marsh was the first one to drop Stoneman in first slip. It was an absolute dolly but Hazlewood’s luck was running low as he was denied a wicket by his fellow teammate.

The second one was tough but goes down as a dropped chance as well. Stoneman was hit on the handle as the ball was lobbed in the air, Nathan Lyon got there but couldn’t grab the ball. The first two dropped catches didn’t cost them much but the third one might. Malan was on 92 when the new ball was taken, he nicked the very first ball and Cameron Bancroft at third slip couldn’t gather. Malan went on to score a century.

4. Malan scores his maiden Test century

Dawid Malan came out to bat when the going was tough. The Australian pacers were steaming in and bowling at their peak but Malan got his act together and played out the spell. His century was not the most elegant one but was extremely efficient. He stuck in there and didn’t miss anything that was near the full-length mark. He was excellent with his shot selection and also with his leaves outside the off-stump.

Malan is the fifth English player to score his maiden Test century at the WACA. The last one was Ben Stokes in 2013. His ton helped England get into the driving seat once again as they finished the day on top even after losing four wickets.

5. Malan and Bairstow fightback

Malan and Bairstow came out to bat during the post-lunch session when England had their backs against the wall. Bairstow has shown in the couple of seasons that he can alter his game according to the situation and he did the same. Malan and Jonny played out the difficult part and managed to up the run-rate at one point as well.

Both of them shared a staggering 174-run partnership. Malan is unbeaten on 110 and Bairstow is 25 runs shy of his fourth Test ton. The second day is going to be very interesting as England will look to bat through and Australia will look to pick early wickets. It is going to be a fantastic contest between bat, ball, and nerves.

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