Australia need 412 runs to win first Test © Getty Images
Australia need 412 runs to win first Test © Getty Images

Unless something miraculous happens, Australia have a humongous task in the opening Test of Ashes 2015. Devarchit Varma explains where Australia erred over the first three days to concede England such a huge advantage.

The chances of an Australian triumph at Cardiff are as bleak as searching a needle in a haystack. England have taken a huge 411-run lead in the opening Test and Australian batsmen will have to bat out of their skins in order to save this Test. If the nature of the wicket is anything to go by — keeping in mind the uneven bounce and turn that has been witnessed — it will be next to impossible for even the best of the batting line-ups to chase a target in excess of 400.  SCORECARD: England vs Australia 1st Ashes 2015 Test at Cardiff

The pitch at Sophia Gardens initially looked excellent for batting but a dud for bowlers. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a peculiar one. There have been no big partnerships or dramatic collapses; unfortunately, wickets have tumbled at regular intervals and the batsmen who have applied themselves well have been rewarded with runs. READ: England set Australia 413 to win at stumps on Day 3 of 1st Ashes Test at Cardiff

The pitch is still good for batting. If Australia keep that in mind, a collapse is not expected, unless they implode. For Australia, sending the message that they will not get bogged down with such targets will be important, and they have a chance to make amends of the mistakes made in the first innings.

However, this match looks all but over for the Australians unless they really pull off an inspired batting display. If they bat for two days, they will surely be able to make these runs. Time, however, is not a critical factor. Australia’s batting prowess will be tested on a tricky wicket where the ball is doing a little: uneven bounce and turn has turned on the hopes for the bowlers. In the first innings, Australian batsmen spent significant time in the middle but right now they are paying price for being slack in almost all departments. READ: Ian Bell, Joe Root put England firmly in control against Australia at tea on Day 3 of 1st Ashes 2015 Test at Cardiff

Had Brad Haddin not dropped Joe Root, the story of this Test would have been very different. Had Michael Clarke and Steven Smith not gifted their wickets, Australia might have been chasing a little less to win. Had Adam Voges and Shane Watson not played recklessly, England might have not got a huge lead. And if the Australian bowlers, known for their discipline and vigour, had not been as erratic, they still would have been a slightly easier position.

It is not that England have played exceptional cricket. They have found men who chipped in with the bat at the right moments and have benefitted largely due to being disciplined with the ball on a poor track. England bowled more on the stumps and attacked the weaknesses of the Australian batsmen. Their opponents, on the other hand, have been short and wide, and have straying down the leg too often, giving England room to breathe and score runs.

The poor application with the bat on the third day will come back to haunt Australia. The case of Watson is turning out to be a curious one. He has provided no support as the fifth bowler, and his lack of runs in the first innings suggests his selection over the in-form Mitchell Marsh was perhaps a wrong call. The second innings, however, will give Watson a chance (probably a final one, at least for some time) to redeem himself and save his position in the team.

The task is uphill, but Australia have the firepower to pull it off. David Warner looked determined to not attack and play a long innings instead, while Chris Rogers was the top scorer in the first essay. The others, such as Clarke, Smith, Watson and Voges have a huge role to play. Surely, we are in for a result in this Test. READ: Australia’s ‘Dad’s Army’ leader Chris Rogers makes intention clear

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)