Cricket

The Ashes: Who will win the first Test?

Australia's hopes rest on Agar. (©GettyImages)
Australia's hopes rest on Agar. (©GettyImages).

England had victory in their sights at the close of day 4 as a late flurry of wickets helped turn the tables from a comfortable Australian innings to a rather struggling one.

The start to day 4 at Trent Bridge was a rather pleasant one. Ian Bell's hard work on day 3 allowed him to take his 13th century for England early on in the day, while Stuart Broad's hard work, mixed with the controversial decision from the previous day, landed himself half-a-century. 

Broad seemed to be heading for a century but that was denied after he was caught from behind after pushing too hard at a ball from James Pattison - Broad finished on a crucial 65 runs. 

Bell fell similarly soon afterwards after falling into the trap that Stuart Broad was victim to. This time off the bowling off Mitchell Starc. The tail-enders for England did not do them any favours and plans of batting to tea were quickly scrapped. England finished on 375, leaving the Aussies with a target of 310 to chase.

England bowlers could be quietly confident however, as the record fourth innings run chase at Trent Bridge is 283.

Shane Watson and Chris Rodgers began to cast fear in the hearts of the bowlers as the movement of the ball was minimal and the pair picked up runs easily, slowly chipping away at what now seemed a managable target.

Watson was given out a few runs before the 50 mark, with Hawk-Eye clearly backing the umpire's decision. Stuart Broad's delivery caught him right on the pad; an obvious lbw.

Joe Root then picked up his first ever Test wicket and gave England an extra spring in their step as they headed in for tea. 

The rather nervous-looking Ed Cowan never looked comfortable and relaxed too early. He tried to wallop Root's delivery but was rather caught at first slip by Jonathan Trott after mis-hitting the shot.

Michael Clarke diligently plugged away at the crease knowing that his wicket was crucial if Australia were to contend for the win. He soon fell after the umpires conversed with each other over whether the ball had carried after he edged it to the slip cordon.

Hawk-Eye played a big role for England - confirming the decision of the umpires after Clarke appealed against the decision. Clarke's wicket was undoubtly an important one.

The decision-review system also came to the aid of England for the fall of Phil Hughes after it showed half the ball pitching in line with leg stump - meaning an overturn of the original decision sent Hughes back to the dressing room.

Record-breaking Ashton Agar then came in at number eight to see out the final few overs of the day with experienced Brad Haddin. 

Australia finished the day on 174-6, still leaving them with 137 runs to achieve if they wish to lead the series 1-0.

The task is difficult, but rather much manageable. Australia are still in the game and the first session of day 5 will be crucial in deciding whether the Aussies are within a shout of a win or if England have done enough. 

Australia will be relying on the talent of teenage bowler Agar after his record-breaking 98 in their previous innings helped them to salvage a respectable total. This time however, they will be aiming to salvage the win.

England on the other hand will need to make the ball swing early on and impose pressure upon Haddin and Agar. Catching the pair before they settle in will make it easier to whittle down the Australian batsmen. 

There could be an early appearance for spinner Graeme Swann; the foot holes could be used to his advantage as a rather unresponsive pitch has not helped him so far.

The key for England is to stay on top of the game and for them not to loose their heads. The win is much more favourable for them; they know that. They just need to turn that into reality now.


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Topics:
Cricket
The Ashes

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