Fortress Gabba and the five deadly stats from the opening day of the Ashes

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Australia are unbeaten in their last 28 Tests at the Gabba.

After much anticipation, the Ashes started in earnest with England well placed at 196-4 at the close of play on day one of the opening Test at the Gabba. Both teams will be somewhat pleased with the outcome of the day after Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first at Brisbane.

We take a look at the five deadly stats after a fine day of cricket at the Gabba.

Mark Stoneman’s and James Vince’s century stand breaks 31 innings streak

It had been 31 innings since England last put on a 100-run plus stand for the second-wicket. The last time it had happened was in 2016 when Alastair Cook and Root had combined to add 185 runs against Pakistan in Manchester.

Stoneman and Vince might have been marked out as the weak links in the English batting by the Aussie bowlers but on Thursday the two relatively inexperienced batsmen put on a fighting 125-run stand for the second wicket after the early dismissal of Cook.

Vince and Stoneman put on a 125-run fighting stand for the second-wicket.

Vince and Stoneman put on a 125-run fighting stand for the second-wicket.

Josh Hazelwood’s recent struggles

Having drawn up comparisons to the legendary Glenn McGrath ever since he has made his Australia debut, Josh Hazelwood has given the fiery Australian pace attack something different with his nagging line and length bowling.

Of late though, the right-arm pacer has struggled with the red-ball – picking up only two wickets since his 6-67 against India earlier in the year.

After going wicketless on day one, Hazelwood now averages 130 with the ball in his last four Tests with a strike-rate of over 336!

Hazelwood has not had the best of times with the ball recently.

Hazelwood has not had the best of times with the ball recently.

Fortress Gabba

Australia’s Test record at the Gabba would be enough to strike fear in the eye of any opponent they face at the venue.  Since 1989, the home side have played 28 Tests at the picturesque venue and have not tasted defeat even once.

They have gone on to win 21 of those Tests with seven ending in a draw. It was no surprise then that the Gabba was chosen as the venue for the opening Ashes Test. Steve Smith’s men will be hoping their Brisbane comforts can give them a head start in the long series.

Australia's formidable record at Gabba is a test for any opposition.

Australia’s formidable record at Gabba is a test for any opposition.

Tim Paine makes comeback after 78 Tests

It has been more than seven years since Tim Paine last donned the Baggy Green of Australia before his shocking recall for the opening Ashes Test.

The last Test Paine played for Australia came in October 2010 against India at Bengaluru. The Aussies have since played 78 Tests before Paine took the gloves against England on Thursday. This is the biggest gap between Test appearances for any Australian player, along with Brad Hogg who missed 78 tests himself between 1996 and 2003.

Australia had played 78 Tests since Paine's last appearance.

Australia had played 78 Tests since Paine’s last appearance.

Cook’s mini-slump

Ever since scoring the mammoth 243-run knock against the West Indies at Birmingham, the veteran English opener has suffered a minor dip in form which might concern Trevor Bayliss and Root.

The elegant left-hander has played five knocks since the double ton and has not been able to score more than 23 runs in any of those innings. His dismissal for just two runs means the 32-year-old has only scored 63 runs in his last five innings.

With Stoneman making his Ashes debut, it is imperative that Cook rediscover his touch to give England solidity at the top.

Alastair Cook's mini-slump continues.

Alastair Cook’s mini-slump continues.

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