England 343/7 (Joe Root 134, Ballance 61, Hazlewood 3/70, Starc 3/84)
A brilliant hundred from Joe Root helped England dominate the first day of the opening Ashes test in Cardiff. The hosts have put 343 for seven at stumps, courtesy of 134 from Joe Root. Though, England will be little disappointed by losing three wickets in the final session.
The start of the game was delayed slightly due to rain, but Australia started off well as they removed Adam Lyth early. Lyth was caught at gully by David Warner in trying to play through the backward square leg but the ball kept straight and took the leading edge. Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance added 35 runs for the second wickets before former was caught behind the stumps by Brad Haddin in trying to cut the ball against Nathan Lyon. The ball extracted extra bounce from the pitch that time. Bell never looked at ease at the crease and was very lucky not to pick the man at mid-on when he missed time a lofted drive. But he fell leg before wickets to Mitchell Starc in the next over. England were reduced to 43-3 and they were in deep trouble. The trouble could have been much deeper had Haddin grabbed the one handed catch off Root’s second ball. Root was on nothing then. After getting a life, Root looked quite comfortable at the crease and he punished anything too short or full. The shots he played through the off side were quite delightful to eyes.
England not lost any wickets in the afternoon session and they were 190 for three at the end of it. But Australia came back with a breakthrough just after tea. Ballance missed a full ball which was little swinging in and was adjudged lbw. Root completed his century with a glorious cover drive which was his signature stroke throughout the day. This was his second century in Ashes. Ben Stokes came in at 6 and played attacking shots for which he is well known now. After Root’s century and Stokes arrival, England were going at brisk rate and they were threatened to take the game away from Australia. But late in the evening, Starc took the edge of the Root’s bat and Watson took a good low catch at first slip. This wicket boosted Starc’s confidence as his bowling was disappointing for most part of the day. He bowled a tight spell against Stokes and eventually crashed his off-stump with the ball that pitches on line and left Stokes. Moeen Ali and Jos Butler countered Australian bowlers brilliantly to take the score past 300. Both were looking quite settled, but latter drove the ball straight to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on off Hazlewood.
Fast bowlers except Hazlewood were little off-color as they bowled either too full or too short. Both Hazlewood and Starc picked three wickets each.
Now, England would like to stretch their score as far as possible and put pressure on Australia.