© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Australia scored 114 for 0 in the pursuit of 170 at stumps on Day 4 of the first Test, courtesy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft’s half-centuries. England bowlers gave their all to make early inroads, but Warner and Bancroft’s resilience eluded them any success. Australia need another 56 runs. They should get there in the first session of Day 5.

Australia sucked the life out of England by removing Joe Root and Mark Stoneman in the first session. Although Moeen Ali (40) and Jonny Bairstow (42) launched a counterattack to keep Australia at bay, the Englishmen could not post a threatening total. Root was the only half-centurion in the innings. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon finished with three-wicket hauls.

Resuming the day with a lead of 7 runs, England had a task cut out: bat all day and pile on a sizable target. However, Lyon spoiled England’s plans and removed the southpaws Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan in quick succession. Root tried to steady England; Hazlewood had him trapped on 51.

Moeen and Bairstow repelled Australia for a while, but Lyon yet again provided breakthrough: he had Moeen stumped. The decision, however, sparked a controversy. Many thought that Moeen should have got the benefit of doubt, as they observed that he had some part of his feet behind the line.

Bairstow upped the ante once he kept losing partners. Sensing urgency, Steven Smith lured Bairstow into going great guns. In the process, Bairstow upper-cut straight to third-man. Starc and Pat Cummins bounced out the tail, wrapping England for 195. Australia were set 170 to win.

England gave nothing away in the defence and so did Australia. Warner and Bancroft applied themselves sensibly. Warner, the aggressor, reached his fifty first with his wide range of strokes. The temperamental and technically solid Bancroft, too, reached fifty. The dressing room acknowledged the valiant efforts of the debutant.

Brief scores:

England 302 (Mark Stoneman 53, James Vince 83; Mitchell Starc 3 for 77, Pat Cummins 3 for 85) & 195 (Joe Root 51; Josh Hazlewood 3 for 46, Mitchell Starc 3 for 51) lead Australia 328 (Steven Smith 141*, Shaun Marsh 51; Stuart Broad  3 for 49) by & 114 for 0 (Cameron Bancroft 51*, David Warner 60*) by 56 runs.

Full scorecard