Two quick wickets swung the day in Australia’s favour in the fifth Ashes Test as England closed day one on 233-5 in Sydney.
But just eight balls earlier, England had been 228-3 and looking good, with Joe Root on 83, having just taken eight runs from Mitchell Starc’s first two balls of the 81st over.
But off the third ball, full and swinging, he tried to flick to leg, only to be well taken by a diving Mitchell Marsh at square leg. Jonny Bairstow lasted just six balls when he edged Josh Hazlewood behind and turned the match on its head.
It had all been so good until then. Root and Dawid Malan put on 133 for the fifth wicket, painstakingly building a base after England were wobbling at 95-3 after 32 overs.
England had elected to bat after a two-hour delay at the start of the Test due to rain, but Mark Stoneman (24) and James Vince (27) were both caught behind off Pat Cummins, and Alastair Cook departed soon after, lbw to Hazlewood in the first session.
Cook, fresh from his unbeaten 244 at the MCG, looked in a patient mood until he was rapped on 39. Hazlewood’s appeal was turned down, but Australia’s review showed that the ball had pitched in line with the leg stump by a slim margin and was going on to hit.
Nevertheless, the damage had been successfully repaired by Root and a resolute Malan, until those fateful two overs under lights. It was a massive breakthrough by Starc, who was returning after missing the fourth Test with a bruised heel, and who had toiled – without reward – for 15 overs, conceding 62 runs.
Malan was left alone at the crease on 55 off 160 balls, with five fours to his name. He will be joined by Moeen Ali when play resumes on day two. They will need a massive batting effort if they are to gain a win in this series, which Australia lead 3-0.
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images