Two of the oldest cricketing giants, England and Australia renewed their Ashes rivalry in the 1st Test at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on 8 July. The visitors retained Shane Watson in the role of an all-rounder ahead of Mitchell Marsh, while the hosts remained unchanged from the team which drew 1-1 against New Zealand in the recent series.
England skipper Alastair Cook won the toss and decided to bat first in the overcast conditions. However, to the utter dismay of home fans, England got off to a bad start losing three wickets for a mere 43 runs in the first session of play.
Josh Hazlewood gave an early breakthrough to Australia after dismissing England opener Adam Lyth (6) in the second over of the match. In a bid to rebuild the innings, Alastair Cook (20) and Ian Bell (1) added 35 runs for the second wicket, but their partnership was cut short by Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the 14th over.
Lyon got Cook out caught by Brad Haddin behind the stumps and Mitchell Starc scalped Bell in the very next over to put England on the backfoot. Reeling at 43/3, the hosts desperately needed a partnership between Joe Root and Gary Ballance who were fairly new to the crease. And the duo responded in style.
Fall of wickets on Day 1
1.6 overs: Josh Hazlewood got Adam Lyth (6) out caught in the slip cordon. Lyth was looking to dab the ball towards the leg side, but got squared up as the ball took a thick outside edge of the bat and went straight towards David Warner who caught it easily.
13.2 overs: Nathan Lyon got Alastair Cook (20) out caught by the wicket-keeper. Cook was looking to play the cut shot, but the extra bounce forced an outside edge that went straight into the hands of Brad Haddin who wouldn't drop those.
14.3 overs: Mitchell Starc got Ian Bell (1) out lbw on an inswinging delivery. Bell was looking to flick it past midwicket, but the ball came back in sharply to hit the bottom of his pad right in front of the stumps.
53.3 overs: Josh Hazlewood got Gary Ballance (61) out lbw on a pitched-up delivery. Ballance was looking to flick it around the corner, but the ball didn't swing at all and crashed onto the pads in front of the stumps. Ballance went for the review but the hawkeye ruled him out as well.
Coming in to bat at 43/3, middle-order batsman Joe Root showcased his batting prowess and notched up his second Ashes 100. The right-handed batsman notched up his 7th Test hundred in 118 balls. Gary Ballance gave adequate support to Root at the other end with his knock of 61 runs by the end of second session of play. The duo added 153 runs to the crucial fourth-wicket partnership which turned the tide in England's favour. Root, who notched up his fifty in 56 balls, was dropped in by Brad Haddin in the 15th over. Ballance was also prolific in his patient innings until his dismissal by Josh Hazlewood right after Tea break.
England: Alastair Cook (c), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (c), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Jason Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article has been updated till the 56th over on Day 1.