Ashes 2019: Nathan Lyon spins a web around England as Australia take series lead

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Nathan Lyon's 6-49 handed Australia a big win in the first Test.

England’s fortress at Edgbaston was breached for the first time in over a decade as Australia completed a crushing 251-run victory over the hosts on the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series.

Chasing a stiff target of 385 runs on the final day at Birmingham, England collapsed for just 146 inside two sessions under some relentless bowling from the visitors.

Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins were the chief architects of Australia’s dominant display on Monday with the off-spinner capturing six wickets while the pacer chipped in with four dismissals.

The Aussies were given the perfect start on day five with Cummins dismissing first-innings centurion Rory Burns with a mean bouncer. Jason Roy and skipper Joe Root mustered some resistance with a brief stand but they were both blown away by an inspired Lyon spell just before lunch.

The Aussie off-spinner deceived the advancing Roy with flight and turn to castle his stumps before Cameron Bancroft completed two excellent catches at short-leg to send back Root and Joe Denly off his bowling.

Those three Lyon wickets meant England went into lunch at 85-4 and matters were only compounded for the hosts post the interval. Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow fell to Cummins’ pace while Lyon dismissed Ben Stokes to bag his fourth wicket of the day as England slid to 97-7.

Lyon completed his five-wicket haul by snaring Moeen Ali once again before dismissing Stuart Broad off the very next delivery. Cummins completed the job for the visitors with the final wicket of Chris Woakes as England’s long spell of dominance at Edgbaston came to an end.

KEY MAN

Steve Smith

The Edgbaston Test will no doubt go down as Steve Smith’s redemption song with the former Australia skipper registering a ton in each innings to mark a triumphant return to the five-day game after more than a year out.

More than the remarkable feat of registering twin tons, it was the manner in which Smith attained those runs that will serve as a timely reminder of his prowess as arguably the best Test batsman of his generation.

The right-hander rescued Australia from a perilous position of 122-8 in the first innings to ultimately help them post a challenging 284. The visitors were in a spot of bother in the second innings as well after conceding a 90-run lead before Smith resurrected them again with a fine 142.

It took Smith’s Ashes tally of tons to 10 and he is now only behind Jack Hobbs (12) and Don Bradman (19) in that regard. For him to do it while being taunted with boos throughout the match makes his heroics all the more remarkable.

Sensational Smith to the rescue of Australia on Test return.

Sensational Smith to the rescue of Australia on Test return.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Jonny Bairstow’s horror run continues

While none of England’s batsmen covered themselves in glory in the second innings, another failure with the bat for Jonny Bairstow means that the wicketkeeper’s torrid run has continued.

On Monday, Bairstow gloved a Cummins’ short delivery towards the slip cordon after adding just six runs to the scoreboard. He is now averaging just 13.8 with the bat in nine red-ball innings in 2019 while his last five knocks have yielded just 16 runs.

The right-hander’s troubles go all the way back to the summer of 2018 with his average in the last 23 Test innings standing at a mere 22.91. His place in the playing XI is under threat with a talented wicketkeeper in Ben Foakes waiting in the wings and another wicketkeeping option in Jos Buttler also available.

KEY STAT

Australia breach fortress Edgbaston

It was the first win for Australia at Edgbaston since their 2001 Ashes win over England and it ended a run of 11 consecutive win across formats at the venue for the hosts.

It was also England’s first Test loss at the venue since their defeat to South Africa over 11 years ago in 2008. The hosts had lost only three Tests previously to Australia at Edgbaston in 14 attempts and only once in the last 26 years.

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