The Ashes Round-Up: Deja vu for Root as late wickets give Australia momentum
Joe Root missed out on a century yet again and Jonny Bairstow fell from the last ball on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test to give Australia the momentum after England had fought back well at the SCG.
Root (83) and Dawid Malan (55 not out) rescued the tourists from 95-3 with a stand of 133, but Australia struck twice with the new ball to remove the captain and Bairstow - who was be left to rue striding out to the crease rather than a nightwatchman.
England were 233-5 at stumps, with much resting on the shoulders of Malan, dropped by Steve Smith off Nathan Lyon on 34 and going on to pass 50 for the fourth time in the series.
Root also raised his bat after making another half-century, but failed to reach three figures after steering a Mitchell Starc delivery low to Mitchell Marsh, who took a sharp chance at square leg.
There was further drama when Bairstow followed, edging Josh Hazlewood behind with only two balls due to be bowled, putting Australia in the ascendancy as they strive to win the series 4-0.
- Pat Cummins (2-44) took two wickets after lunch was taken early due to rain, reducing England to 95-3.
- Alastair Cook (39), Mark Stoneman (24) and James Vince (25) get starts but are unable to go on, Hazlewood (2-47) getting the former England captain leg before wicket following a successful review.
- Root and Malan dig in to give England the upper hand, but the captain and his fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow fall late in the day to give Australia the edge.
- Mitchell Starc replaces Jackson Bird in the only change to the Australia side. England leg-spinner Mason Crane makes his Test debut, coming in for the injured Chris Woakes.
MOMENT OF THE DAY
Root seemed destined for a deserved first hundred of the series, looking in great touch after grinding it out with Malan.
He was left on his haunches late in the day, though, picking out Marsh from Starc's third delivery with the new ball.
Root struck the left-armer's first ball with the new cherry to the boundary with a sumptuous straight drive and had a stroke of luck when he inside-edged the next one for four, but was trudging off after failing to make a century for the ninth time in the last 10 occasions that he has passed 50 in Tests.
- When Hazlewood removed Cook it was the 10th time he has dismissed a top-four batsman in the series. Nobody else has more than eight [Starc].
- Root did not not play and miss at a single one of the 141 balls he faced on Thursday.
- Debutant Crane was six months old the last time an English spinner took 10 wickets in an Ashes Test (Phil Tufnell 11-93, The Oval 1997).
"It's a very quiet dressing room tonight, because people know how hard Dawid and Rooty worked to get themselves into that position. To see Rooty get out the way he did, he's incredibly disappointed and frustrated." England assistant coach Paul Farbrace told Test Match Special.
David Saker, the Australia assistant head coach, told BT Sport: "We've been good at getting the tail out and any score under 350 we would be happy with. Those two wickets were big for us tonight. It's a big change late it the day and will be a big morning for us."
ENGLAND NEED TAIL OF THE UNEXPECTED
Aside from Stuart Broad's half-century on a flat MCG pitch, England's tail has failed to frustrate Australia so far in the series.
Malan will need to hang in there, but Australia will fancy their chances of making short work of wrapping up the innings, unless Moeen Ali can rediscover his form.