Australia win to seal Ashes success
Australia pushed home their overnight advantage to win this pulsating 4th Specsavers Ashes Test Match-and retain the Ashes-by 185 runs after bowling England out for 197 with less than 15 overs to spare during an enthralling final day at Emirates Old Trafford.
Pat Cummins led the visitors attack with 4-43 after adding to his two wickets taken late on the fourth day but England fought tenaciously all day to try and force the draw that would have kept the series alive going into the fifth and final Test next week.
The defeat ended England’s long unbeaten run at Emirates Old Trafford that stretched back over 11 matches to 2001 and came in front of a sold-out fifth day crowd that meant this was the second highest aggregate attendance for any match at our ground.
And for a time, with every run cheered heartily, it appeared that England hopes of batting through the day to save the game might be realised.
Resuming on 18-2 Jason Roy stroked the first boundary of the day off Cummins’ third delivery and his partnership with opening batsman Joe Denly blossomed through the early passage of play with the pair relatively untroubled.
Denly had an anxious moment when getting a thick edge off Mitchell Starc over the slips for four, but his sweep to the square leg boundary when Nathan Lyon was brought into the attack was much more authentic.
Roy drove Starc beautifully for four through cover as the 50 partnership arrived from 114 balls on the hour mark.
With Australia struggling to make a breakthrough there was the slightly unusual sight of Starc ready to begin of his run-up before being replaced by Cummins. But skipper Tim Paine’s decision was immediately vindicated when Cummins bowled Roy with his last ball of the over to end 80 minutes of early resistance with England on 66-3.
As so frequently happens, one wicket begat two.
Fifteen minutes before lunch Ben Stokes, cheered all the way out to the middle and having scored one single from 17 balls, inside-edged Cummins to Paine after attempting-too late-to play no shot.
Denly and Johnny Bairstow reached the break on 87-4 with 71 overs left to negotiate and on the resumption Denly drove Cummins for four through mid-off to bring up his third Test fifty from 112 balls.
But Denly’s near three-hour occupation of the crease ended when he gloved a catch off to Marnus Labuschagne at short leg from a sharply turning, lifting, Lyon delivery for 53 with England wobbling on 93-5.
Jos Buttler, on his 29th birthday, took 32 deliveries in scoring eight runs but doubled that tally by driving consecutive boundaries off Lyon-rare shots of aggression with both batsmen mainly intent on survival.
Paine continued to rotate his attack, even giving brief outings to both Labuschagne and Travis Head, before the recalled Starc struck with the first delivery of a new spell midway through the afternoon, trapping Bairstow lbw for 25 to break a solid 45-run partnership that had spanned 14 overs.
Cummins then produced an outstanding spell, seaming the ball away at pace and also reversing the ball into both Buttler and Craig Overton who somehow survived a searching examination to reach tea with England hanging on at 166-6 with 36 overs still to survive.
But six overs after the resumption Buttler’s magnificent resistance came to an end on 34 after 111 balls when he shouldered arms to Hazlewood, who nipped the ball back to hit off stump.
That wicket ended an outstanding defiant 21-over partnership of 34 runs and Australia struck again quickly when Jofra Archer was palpably lbw to Lyon for 1.
With overhead conditions worsening the floodlights came on for the first time just before the new ball was taken to heighten the drama with Jack Leach and Overton surrounded by fielders and still having 29 overs to face.
And in a gripping, dramatic passage of play that spanned just over one hour the pair held out, despite being hit by short deliveries several times as the crowd roared their approval for each ball survived.
With the quick bowlers unable to force a breakthrough captain Paine turned to the wrist spin of Labuschagne with 16 overs left, in an attempt to test Leach by bringing the ball back into the left hander. It did the trick when Leach was caught off the fifth ball of the over at short leg by Matthew Wade for 12 to understandable Australian relief.
That left last pair Overton and Stuart Broad with 15.1 overs to bat but it took just four balls for Australia to wrap up a deserved victory when Hazlewood trapped Overton, who had battled heroically for 105 balls, lbw for 21.
The jubilant Australian team celebrated a great victory that puts them 2-1 up in the series, enough to retain the Ashes ahead of the final Test at The Oval starting on Thursday.
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