England Takes 2-1 Lead In Ashes

England leads the Ashes 2-1 after a clinical eight-wicket victory against Australia before tea on the third day at Edgbaston on Friday.  The English dismissed the tourists for 265 in its second innings and successfully chased the 121-run victory target for the loss of captain Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth.  The day started with Peter Nevill (37*) and Mitchell Starc (7*) still standing and the Aussies on 168/7.

The hosts would no doubt have been hoping to wrap it up inside the first hour but Nevill and Starc stood firm at first.  The wicketkeeper/batsman brought up his half-century before falling for 59.  Thursday’s five-wicket hero Steven Finn had the 29-year old caught behind by keeper Jos Buttler.

A quick fold failed to take place as Starc took it upon himself to bat his side into a position where they might feel they could actually defend what was going to be a low target.  Josh Hazlewood hung around for 32 minutes before Ben Stokes had him caught by Joe Root for 11 after a 28-run partnership.  Nathan Lyon was equally irritating surviving 27 minutes for his 12 not out in a 20-run final wicket stand.

Starc was last man out for 58 when he was caught by substitute Josh Poysden off Moeen Ali.  Starc struck six fours and a maximum as the visitors were eventually all out for 265, setting the home side 121 for victory.  Finn’s 6/79 made him the pick of the English bowlers.

At lunch Cook and Lyth had scored four runs in two overs.  After the interval the captain fell for 7 when he was clean-bowled by Starc.  At 11/1 the improbable dream remained realistic but Ian Bell was having none of it.

Lyth hung around for 12 before Hazlewood trapped him leg before wicket but Bell was going great guns at the other end.  The England number three powered to an unbeaten 65 from 90 balls and was ably assisted by Joe Root’s 38 not out.  Bell blasted 10 fours on his home ground to record back-to-back fifties as the poms take a 2-1 lead before the fourth Test at Trent Bridge starting next Thursday.

Root was the man who whipped the winning boundary through square on the leg side off Mitchell Marsh.