JOHANNESBURG – Dawid Malan’s maiden Test century helped England go to stumps on the opening day of the third of five Ashes Tests with the scoreboard reading 305/4 and the advantage on its side.
Joe Root won the toss and opted to take first strike, but things were on an even keel after the first session, with England 91/2, and the second, at 175/4, but no wickets fell after tea at Perth’s WACA ground as Malan got to 110 not out. With Jonny Bairstow chipping in with an unbeaten 75, the unbroken fifth-wicket stand has so far added 174 runs.
Malan’s century was the first by an Englishman in the series, which Australia leads 2-0, and the stand between him and Bairstow the highest for the visiting side so far.
The Australians were profligate as they put down three catches and missed a run out, and among the ones to benefit was Malan. He was short of his crease trying to steal a run when on 32 but David Warner’s pick-and-hurl from point missed the stumps, and then Cameron Bancroft dropped him in the slips off Mitchell Starc when he was just eight runs away from three figures.
He got to his century with a pull off Josh Hazlewood and ended the day having faced 174 balls, his innings inclusive of 15 fours and a six. Bairstow has so far faced 149 balls and hit 10 fours.
Malan walked in when the Australian pacemen were subjecting England to a bouncer barrage and Joe Root had edged Pat Cummins for Tim Paine to complete a smart catch down the leg side after scoring 20.
Mark Stoneman, who had kept things steady before being in all sorts of trouble against the short-pitched stuff, was dismissed soon after Malan’s entry. Stoneman was hit on the helmet grille once and dropped twice – both times with his personal score on 52 – before gloving a Starc delivery behind to Paine to depart for a 110-ball 56, with 10 fours. He had originally been given not out, but the decision was overturned on review.
In the morning, Alastair Cook, playing his 150th Test match, was trapped lbw by Starc for just seven in the fifth over of the innings, and James Vince played well before reaching for a drive to Hazlewood but only nicking behind. Vince scored 25 and fell with just over five minutes to go for lunch.
Stoneman first and then Malan (who once played for Boland) and Bairstow, however, have taken England to a position of strength from where it can harbour realistic hopes of winning the game – the last Test to be played at the storied venue – and keeping the series alive.
African News Agency (ANA)