November 23, 2017
Australia managed to pull things back late in the second session as Pat Cummins broke a 125-run stand between James Vince and Mark Stoneman minutes before Tea. Stoneman (53) was bowled through his defence as Australia enjoyed their best spell of bowling in the day, just before the break. It could have been even better had Tim Paine hung on to Vince’s edge off Nathan Lyon on 68. That phase of play saw Australia go into the break with their spirits boosted despite a session where England largely dominated through the twin fifties.
The partnership came when England had their backs against the wall after the early departure of Alastair Cook (2) to Mitchell Starc. Opting to bat, England would have hoped to see their senior batsman lead the way, but Cook got a good away-going delivery that was edged to slip. Curiously though, Australia’s pacers did not manage to extract consistent movement after that wicket. It allowed both Vince and Stoneman to settle in without too much discomfort.
On a pitch that was playing slower than expected, Australia were struggling to zero in on the right lengths to bowl on. Josh Hazlewood was guilty of getting it too full on occasions and it helped Vince showcase some delectable drives. Stoneman was more conventional in grinding the bowlers out but did manage to get his runs whenever they were available.
Australia went into the match with their preferred first eleven, as injury concerns to David Warner and Shaun Marsh were not serious enough to keep them out. However, they wouldn’t have probably expected offspinner Lyon to be as threatening as he was on a first day at The Gabba. The partnership between the two batsmen forced Steve Smith to get in Lyon early, who immediately got some purchase off the wicket while also getting good shape through the air. But Vince and Stoneman were able to stonewall him as well to cap off a good first session for England. The duo was untroubled even after the extended break when 95 minutes was lost to rain after Lunch.
But with Stoneman’s departure, Australia have an opening to even the honours for the day if they have a good final session.
Brief scores: England 128/2 (James Vince 72*, Mark Stoneman 53; Mitchell Starc 1-26) vs Australia