The Ashes: Fifth Test Day One - New ball breathes new life for Aussies as England falter

Two wickets in the last two overs of the day scuppered England's start to the first day of the final test at Sydney.

The Ashes: Fifth Test Day One - New ball breathes new life for Aussies as England falter
England's day finished in disappointment with two quick wickets. (Photo via Getty Images / Steve Christo-Corbis)

It was all going so well for Joe Root until he was forced to trudge off with just minutes remaining in the day. 81 not out, his side 228-3 as the skipper led the way alongside Dawid Malan in a partnership of 133. 

Just two overs remained in the day. Defiantly see them off, head back to the dressing room with the job done would have been the thinking. The England captain admitted at the toss it was going to be a tough day for his team.

After a two-hour rain delay, England won their fourth toss of the series and opted to bat on a wicket that looked perfect for bowling. Root however, knew the Sydney wicket would deteriorate later in the match and wanted his top order to be brave.

And they were, prior to his and Jonny Bairstow's dismissals in the space of seven balls.

Root watched his side's dominance capitulate, once again, just as they were ready to stroll off on top after day one. He was first. Cruising towards an Ashes century, Mitchell Starc offered him a freebie, a lovely half volley on leg stump swinging down leg side.

Root clipped it straight to Mitch Marsh at square leg and so in came the night watchman, or did he?

Bairstow decided he was going to brave out the last nine balls of the day to the surprise of Malan, who was to watch the whole farce from the other end on a well-made and crucially unbeaten 55. Bairstow only lasted seven of the nine.

A boundary and a single later, he was gone, caught behind with what proved to be the last ball of the day.

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The day just summed up England's series, on top all day from the moment Mark Stoneman crashed a run-a-ball 24. It was to end oh so familiar for him, too.

The Surrey opener looked as positive as they come, a gorgeous flick to fine leg for four followed by a straight drive, cover drive and back-foot punch yielded 15 very quick runs.

But the first sign of a good ball and he was gone, nicking behind off Pat Cummins to a decent delivery. Nevertheless, you have to expect one or two of them if you want test match centuries and they need to be kept out. This one wasn't.

A steely 39 from Alastair Cook to back up his mammoth 244 in Melbourne saw England at 95-3 before Root and Malan's fruitful partnership, whilst James Vince got himself in, and then out again, in very familiar fashion. Another start saw him make 25 before he was caught behind.

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Regrets for England

England battled and dominated all day long. The tourists nullified Starc who had bowled 16 overs, 0-63 before Root gifted him his 20th wicket of the series.

Nathan Lyon also bowled 26 overs to no avail and on a day where England were oh so close to being chuffed to bits with their day's work, they will be ruing what could of been whilst Steve Smith breathes a sigh of relief and tells his guys they had a half-decent day.

Joe Root, on the other hand, will be livid.