England win Edgbaston Test

2015-07-31 17:53
Ian Bell (Gallo Images)

Birmingham - Ian Bell delighted a capacity crowd at his Warwickshire home ground with a sparkling unbeaten fifty as England beat Australia by eight wickets to win the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday.

Victory, achieved with more than two days to spare, saw England go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series.

England, set a modest victory target of 121, finished on 124 for two after lunch on Friday's third day.

Bell was 65 not out and Joe Root, who struck the winning boundary off Mitchell Marsh, 38 not out.

There was a moment of concern for England when captain Alastair Cook (seven) was bowled by a superb swinging delivery from left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc to leave the hosts seven for one.

But Bell, roared on by England fans in a sun-drenched crowd, then took charge with a flurry of four fours in seven balls off Starc, including one down the ground and a classic cover-drive.

Bell, arguably England's most elegant batsman, then late cut off-spinner Nathan Lyon to the third man rope.

He was, however, given a reprieve on 20 when, with England 35 for one, he edged Starc to second slip only for Australia captain Michael Clarke to drop the two-handed catch.

It summed up a miserable match for Clarke, whose run of low scores in Tests continued with innings of 10 and three at Edgbaston.

England opener Adam Lyth has also been struggling with the bat and when he was lbw to Josh Hazlewood's inswinger for 12, it meant the hosts were now 51 for two.

Root, Lyth's Yorkshire team-mate, showed few signs of nerves, however, in cutting his first ball, from Hazlewood, for four.

Bell's late-cut boundary off Starc saw him to his second fifty of the match, off 68 balls with seven fours.

It was a fine performance by the 33-year-old Bell, who came into this match -- his 113th Test -- with a question mark against his place after several meagre innings.

Meanwhile there was mass barracking of fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, repeatedly taunted with a derogatory song regarding his accuracy that became commonplace during England's 2010/11 Ashes series win in Australia.

It appeared to get to the left-arm quick, who aborted his run-up for one delivery and then bowled from well behind the crease before he was taken off.

This match represented a remarkable turnaround from England's humiliating 405-run defeat in the second Test at Lord's which saw Australia level the series at 1-1.

But whereas that clash had taken place on a largely placid pitch, the course of this Test owed much to Clarke's decision to bat first on a seaming surface offering sideways movement.

James Anderson, England's all-time most successful Test bowler but wicketless at Lord's, led the way with an Ashes-best six for 47 as Australia were dismissed for just 136 in their first innings.

However, come Friday, he had been ruled out of both the remainder of this match and next week's fourth Test at Trent Bridge with a side strain suffered while bowling on Thursday.

Australia resumed Friday on 168 for seven, 23 runs ahead and the two not out batsmen overnight, Peter Nevill and Starc, both went on to make fifties and shared an eighth-wicket stand of 64 that boosted Australia's second innings total to 265 all out.

England fast bowler Steven Finn, recalled for his first Test in two years following an injury to Mark Wood, led the attack with his best figures at this level of six for 79.

Nevill's leg-glanced boundary off Finn saw him to a maiden Test fifty, in only his second match, in 126 balls with six fours.

Having survived one appeal for a catch down the legside on 53 by opposing wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, Nevill eventually fell in similar fashion when the diving England gloveman held a stunning one-handed chance, high to his left, off Finn.

Starc's straight six off spinner Moeen Ali saw him to an 83-ball fifty, including six fours.

It also gave Australia a lead of 100 before Ali ended the innings when he had Starc caught in the covers.

Read more on:    england  |  australia  |  ashes  |  cricket

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