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England clinches Ashes with 49-run win in final Test: level series

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Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali turned the match on its head in the final session to help England square the Ashes with a 49-run victory on Monday (July 31) in front of a full house at The Oval. Australia, who started Day 5 of the fifth Test at 135/0 chasing 384, lost early wickets but got back on track thanks to a 95-run partnership between Steve Smith and Travis Head.

Despite the second session being washed out, Australia had covered good ground in terms of their scoring, getting 103 in 28 overs in the opening session. They needed 146 runs in the final session with 47 overs expected to be bowled. But England didn’t need that many as Moeen and Woakes combined to trigger a collapse, with Australia losing seven wickets for 70 runs. Giving himself, and the series, a proper finish, Stuart Broad bagged the last two wickets as he ended his Test career with 604 wickets.

Head joined Smith at the crease after Australia lost quick wickets and slipped to 169/3. Head struggled initially, beaten outside off multiple times, before getting into the thick of action with regular boundaries. Smith also found the fence from time to time, as they extended their partnership past 50 and brought the target below 150. In some late drama in the final over before Lunch, Moeen Ali got Smith to glove one to leg-slip where Ben Stokes timed his jump well to hold on to the ball but in his attempt to throw it, he hit his right knee and the ball popped out.

Woakes found movement straightaway in the final session and went past Smith’s outside edge on a couple of occasions while Moeen was getting sharp turn. Woakes also tested the outside edge of Head’s bat but the left-hander struck the first four of the session, playing one past mid-on. But Moeen and Woakes changed the tone of the match completely in just a few overs. Moeen lured Head into a drive, getting him to edge to slip while Smith fell after reaching fifty, squared up by Woakes to edge to slip. Moeen and Woakes then accounted for Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Starc as Australia, who were going strong at 264/3, slipped to 275/7.

Alex Carey and Pat Cummins tried to resurrect the chase, with the two batters striking a boundary apiece. But Cummins fell in his attempt to pull a short ball from Moeen, handing the spinner his third wicket. Broad was brought back into the attack in what was his final spell and bowled in tandem with Moeen. But the England bowlers encountered resistance from Carey and Todd Murphy who put on a well-paced partnership to keep Australia interested and England frustrated. Carey also struck a six off Moeen coming down the track while Murphy pulled a Broad delivery for a four. But Broad ended England’s wait by getting Murphy to edge to the ‘keeper and nearly had Carey too if not for Crawley putting down the catch. The dream finish came soon enough as Broad had Carey caught behind to secure himself a winning farewell and a 2-2 finish to the Ashes.

Earlier, With overcast conditions welcoming the teams at The Oval on the final day, and a changed ball which had a lot more shine, there was assistance for the bowlers as Broad and Woakes tested the Australian openers. Woakes eventually made the breakthrough, getting David Warner (60) to edge behind. England lost a review when Broad went up for a leg-before shout against Marnus Labuschagne. But a short while later, Usman Khawaja burnt a review after being trapped in front by an incoming delivery from Woakes as he went back to the hut after a well-made 72. Labuschagne came out with a lot more intent compared to his first innings effort. But his promising stand with Smith was ended by Mark Wood who went wide of the crease to find the edge.

Australia, who retained the Ashes after the drawn fourth Test, asked England to bat first and had them in early trouble. But Harry Brook’s counter-attacking 85 and useful runs from Woakes and Wood helped the hosts post 283 in their first innings in less than 55 overs. Australia nearly batted double the number of overs to score 295, with Smith scoring 71 in their first essay. Joe Root (91), Jonny Bairstow (78) and Zak Crawley (73) led England’s charge in the second innings as they took only 81.5 overs to score 395. Australia replied with a century opening stand before Woakes and Moeen ran through their batting order, and Broad had his final dance to bring a fitting end to an evenly-contested Ashes.

Brief scores: England 283 (Harry Brook 85, Ben Duckett 41; Mitchell Starc 4-82, Todd Murphy 2-22) & 395 (Joe Root 91, Jonny Bairstow 78; Mitchell Starc 4-100, Todd Murphy 4-110) beat Australia 295 (Steve Smith 71, Usman Khawaja 47; Chris Woakes 3-61, Stuart Broad 2-49) & 334 (Usman Khawaja 72, David Warner 60; Chris Woakes 4-50, Moeen Ali 3-76) by 49 runs.

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