BRISBANE (REUTERS) – Captain Joe Root and Dawid Malan scored defiant half-centuries in a stirring unbeaten partnership as England rallied from a position of peril to win their first day of the Ashes at the Gabba on Friday (Dec 10).
Coming together at 61 for two, Root and Malan pushed England to 220 for two at stumps, having cut Australia’s lead to 58 runs and raised a sliver of hope of saving a match that seemed in jeopardy early on day three.
Root was 86 not out and Malan on 80 in their 159-run partnership, the pair having thwarted Australia’s bowlers for much of two sessions on a baking hot day.
Along the way Root set an England record for the most test runs in a calendar year, reaching 1,541 to eclipse former skipper Michael Vaughan’s mark of 1,481 set in 2002.
The skipper now has three of England’s top five run totals in a calendar year, having scored 1,477 in 2016 and 1,385 in 2015.
He was all but bowled by Nathan Lyon, having missed a sweepshot that whistled past the stumps, but the Yorkshireman whacked the spinner to the fence on the next delivery to bring up his 50 midway through the final session.
Malan’s heart was also in his mouth entering the final hour when he pulled Australia captain Pat Cummins in the air to backward square leg but fielder Marcus Harris lost the ball in the sun and it fell just short of his hands.
Lyon put in a big shift but finished the day frustrated and wicketless, still one short of his milestone 400th victim.
Malan and Root had resumed at 107 for two after tea after Australia knocked over the tourists’ openers cheaply.
Rory Burns’ nightmare test continued as he was caught behind for 13 off Cummins, a short ball cramping him as he made a hash of a cut shot.
He was bowled first ball of the series on Wednesday by Mitchell Starc and dropped David Warner in the slips on Thursday. Warner went on to score 94.
Haseeb Hameed fell needlessly to a leg-side glance that clipped his glove on the way to wicketkeeper Alex Carey off the bowling of Starc.
Earlier, Travis Head finished with a magnificent 152 from 148 balls, Australia’s last wicket to fall after another dominant session in the morning.
It was a largely dreary morning for England, whose bowlers seemed tired from a long day in the sun on day two.
Ben Stokes, who bowled nine overs on Thursday and struggled after jarring his left knee, came into the attack some 45 minutes into the session and was blasted over his head for six by Head on his second delivery.
Nearly an hour passed before tail-ender Starc gifted England a wicket by slogging Chris Woakes straight to Burns at deep square leg.
Wood, the pick of England’s bowlers, dismissed Lyon for 15 when the number 10 pulled at a short ball and top-edged to Robinson at square leg.
Head slog-swept Jack Leach to bring up his 150 in 143 balls and enjoyed another roaring ovation from the Gabba crowd, as fans kitted out as bananas, convicts and nuns celebrated the mark.
Hameed then dropped Head in the field with a running chance before the batsman was finally bowled by Wood backing away from the wicket in search of quick runs.
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