Australia sealed the five-match Ashes series with three consecutive wins as they defeated England by an innings and 41 runs on the last day in Perth. England saw yet another batting collapse in the second innings after Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan gave away their wickets early in the fifth day.
Australia started the Perth Test on the back foot with many questioning the management’s decision to select Mitchell Marsh ahead of Peter Handscomb. With England batsman looking at a big score on a flat WACA strip, Marsh added further fuel to the selection controversy by dropping an easy catch at the first slip of Mark Stoneman. The opener went on to get his fifty later with the visitors ending the first day with the scoreboard reading 305/4. Jonny Bairstow (118*) and Dawid Malan (75*) held the mast steady in England’s middle order after the likes of Joe Root and Alastair Cook returned cheaply early in the day. The quiet day for Australia saw Mitchell Starc getting a brace followed by wickets by Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins sharing one apiece.
The second day saw the tables completely turned as England faced a familiar batting collapse after a strong start. Australia’s ability to forge partnerships have been their biggest strength this season and England’s inability to do it, their biggest weakness. Bairstow and Malan were passengers early on in the second day and Moeen Ali, Overton, and Broad followed suit in the next 35 runs. Consequently, England could muster just 95 runs on the day after ending the previous day with six wickets and two settled batsmen in hand. The Perth crowd also a determined Steven Smith coming to crease after Australia lost Warner and Bancroft in the first innings. The skipper ended the day unbeaten on 91 giving a hint of things to come.
England bowlers’ inability to find a solution for Steve Smith continued on the third day as the Aussie skipper went on an invincible scoring run. Bringing up his career’s second double ton, Smith entered the elite club to become only the fourth player to score more than one century in the Ashes after Sir Don Bradman (8), Walter Hammond (4) and Bob Simpson (2). However, the major highlight of the way was Mitchell Marsh, who silenced his critics and repaid the faith of his selectors with a magnificent maiden century and ending the day unbeaten at 181. His confident innings saw 29 boundaries, with almost every shot coming from the middle of the bat. After an early break of Shaun Marsh, England bowlers failed to get a single wicket conceding 346 runs.
After batting for almost two complete days, England finally got the better of Smith and Mash early in the day, shattering fans’ hopes of watching Smith’s maiden triple century and Marsh’s maiden double century. The ball had started doing movement after hitting the cracks on the pitch leaving Australian batsman difficult to breathe. After some quintessential late knocks by Tim Paine (49*) and Pat Cummins (41), Australia finished the fourth day at 662/9 with a lead of 259 runs. England, however, had no quality whatsoever to get things going as they were reduced to 71/3 by Tea with Cook, Root and Stoneman all returning to the pavilion. The visitors ended the day on 132/4, relying yet again on Malan and Bairstow.
The game was more than over before the final day as England were trailing by 127 runs with six wickets in hand. Given England’s poor batting collapse on previous occasions, Australia
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