Sunday, June 16, 2024

Australia Openers Start Strongly In Pursuit Of Ashes Glory Against England

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Australia requires 249 additional runs to secure a 3-1 series victory and achieve their first Ashes campaign triumph in England since 2001.

On a rain-shortened Sunday, Australia’s opening batsmen, David Warner and Usman Khawaja, both remained unbeaten with half-centuries as the visiting team reached a total of 135-0 in pursuit of a challenging target of 384 runs to win the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval. Their partnership kept England’s Stuart Broad waiting for a farewell wicket, as the fast-bowling great announced his retirement after the match. Warner was unbeaten on 58, while Khawaja remained not out on 69 when rain interrupted play on the fourth day at 2:41 pm (1341 GMT). Australia needs 249 more runs to clinch a 3-1 series victory and secure their first Ashes triumph in England since 2001.

If Australia manages to achieve this target, it will be the eighth-highest successful fourth-innings chase in any Test match and the second-highest in England, surpassing Australia’s 404-3 at Headingley in 1948, a match in which Arthur Morris scored 182, and the legendary Don Bradman remained unbeaten at 173.

Additionally, it would set a new ground record, surpassing the highest successful fourth-innings chase in a Test match at The Oval, which currently stands at England’s 263-9 against their arch-rivals in 1902.

Stuart Broad, a fast-medium bowler, has dismissed David Warner 17 times in Test cricket. However, neither he nor the rest of England’s pace attack managed to break through before rain forced the players off the field. A persistent downpour ruled out any hopes of resuming play later on Sunday.

During the match, Warner reached his half-century with an impressive boundary, lofting England’s veteran paceman James Anderson straight back over his head. In contrast, Anderson, who celebrated his 41st birthday on Sunday, struggled to find swing and accidentally bowled a head-high full-toss (beamer) to Warner, who capitalized on it with another boundary.

Usman Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the series, reached his fifty with a well-placed edge for four off the express pace of Mark Wood. Warner, who had been struggling for runs, followed suit with a fifty of his own, comprising seven fours and coming off 90 deliveries.

The Australian openers comfortably faced England’s fast bowlers, with some occasional sharp turn from off-spinner Moeen Ali and occasional spin from Joe Root, but it was not enough to break their partnership.

Australia had already retained the Ashes as the series holders when they arrived in London with a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

Earlier in the match, Stuart Broad received a guard of honor as he walked to the crease for his final innings. However, England could only add six runs to their overnight total of 389-9. The 37-year-old seamer is the fifth-highest wicket-taker in Test history, with 602 wickets to his name. Broad, known for his contributions with the ball, expressed his joy at facing his last ball and bowling his last delivery against Australia, a team he has shared a lifelong association with.

Broad was batting alongside his long-time bowling partner, James Anderson, and he opened his innings by pulling a towering six off the bowling of Mitchell Starc. However, Anderson was adjudged LBW to off-spinner Todd Murphy off the fifth ball of the second over as England’s innings came to a close with a total of 395.

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