Reeling at 3-12 after 10 overs, Australia mounted a stunning comeback against England on day one of the fifth Ashes Test to reach stumps back in control at 6-241.
Having won the toss on a grassy Bellerive Oval wicket, England captain Joe Root gambled on bowling first and was swiftly vindicated.
England’s Ollie Robinson and Stuart Broad came out firing on Friday, finding the outside edges of gun batters David Warner (0), Steve Smith (0) and Usman Khawaja (6) cheaply.
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DAY ONE NEWS
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For the first time all Ashes series, Australia was in strife – and facing the possibility of being blown away with batting conditions at the hardest they had been all series.
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, however, knew that to stand still was to be a sitting duck for England’s quicks.
From there, the Test match transformed into a one-dayer with Labuschagne and Head throwing the bat at everything to land some swift counter-punches.
Labuschagne was guilty of getting carried away as pre-meditation comically brought his undoing just before the dinner break, as he walked too far across the line, lost his footing, and had his middle stump pegged back by Broad.
But Head continued the fight after the big break as the pitch assistance ran out for England’s quicks, who also started to stray too short.
Having missed the fourth Test due to a positive Covid-19 Test, Head was making up for lost time and raced out to score his second century of the series off just 112 balls.
He was out facing his 113th as a top-edge off Chris Woakes flew to mid-off.
Nonetheless, Head is now averaging 69.80 this series and is the leading run-scorer with 349 to his name.
Head was brilliantly supported by all-rounder Cameron Green who played arguably his finest Test innings to make 74 from 109 balls.
Green was eventually caught on the deep square leg boundary during a spell of short-pitched bowling from Mark Wood.
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Shortly after, at about 9pm local time, the Hobart heavens opened and suspended play before it was abandoned entirely at 10.15pm.
After play was abandoned, Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey said on Fox Cricket that Australia was narrowly in control of the Test despite its poor start.
Speaking of the early collapse, Gilchrist said: “At that moment, that was the chance for them (England) to really blow Australia away.
“It’s advantage Australia, it just depends what happens in the opening stanza tomorrow.”
Hussey added: “If Australia can get over 300 it will feel that’s a good total. But if England can get Australia out early, knock them over for around 250, 260, they’ll feel like they’re in this game.”
Play will resume on Saturday at 2.30pm (AEDT) with Alex Carey on 10* and Mitchell Starc 0*.
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