A strong end to day one has seen Australia’s bowlers take a slight edge after the opening chapter of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.
England’s batsmen had successfully negotiated a fair portion of the opening day, but at stumps the tourists were 4-196, with Dawid Malan on 28 not out and Moeen Ali unbeaten on 13.
After all the speculation about Glenn Maxwell being a late inclusion, the Australians went in as picked, with David Warner opening with Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh due in at six.
The tourists won the toss and chose to bat, despite all the hype about Australia’s battery of pacemen including Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
The pacemen made an early breakthrough, with Starc striking in the third over of the day, his delivery drawing the edge from the former England skipper Alastair Cook, and the ball was taken nicely at first slip by Peter Handscomb.
The English were in trouble at 1-2, and the Gabba crowd roared, sensing an opportunity for the home side to make inroads.
Opener Mark Stoneman was joined at the crease by James Vince, and the Australians tried very hard to get another breakthrough. They tied the pair down, with scoring very slow early on.
Chances were almost non-existent after Cook’s dismissal.
The English pair chose to leave plenty of deliveries, but eventually Vince started playing some shots on both sides of the wicket, and he began to accumulate some runs.
Stoneman also showed a preference for shots square of the wicket, and after a slow start he started to beat the field.
The English went to lunch at 1-59, a solid comeback after the poor start.
Any hopes of immediately building on their position went out the window, however, as rain began falling shortly before the scheduled resumption — it seemed like a passing shower, but in the end the players were off for an hour-and-a-half before things got under way.
When play resumed, Stoneman and Vince continued to make progress, as the usually bowler-friendly Gabba pitch appeared far more docile.
When Cummins had a shout for LBW turned down against Vince half an hour before tea, it was one of the first times the bowlers had had any sort of win.
Vince had already reached his 50 and kept going, while Stoneman pushed on to his half-century, getting there with a false shot through slips for two to make it 1-119.
The English were not breaking any records for speed of scoring, but they were getting the job done of keeping their wickets intact.
The Australians had a big chance before tea, and it fell to wicketkeeper Tim Paine — Nathan Lyon’s delivery turned and took the edge of Vince but Paine couldn’t hold it and the partnership continued.
Finally, just before the break, Pat Cummins produced a brilliant delivery to clean bowl Stoneman for 53, ending the partnership and bringing skipper Joe Root to the crease.
England was 2-128 at tea, and the Australians returned with renewed vigour for the final session, hoping to crack into the middle order by stumps.
Before this Test, Vince’s highest-scoring knock for England had been 42 — he was eyeing off a first Test century at the Gabba, but it all came unstuck when he was on 83.
A poor decision to run for a quick single was punished as Nathan Lyon threw down the stumps from cover to end an excellent innings.
The Australians were growing in enthusiasm, and Cummins struck again in the final hour when he speared one in at Root’s legs.
Umpire Marais Erasmus did not give an LBW decision, but the replays showed the skipper was plumb, out for 15.
The Australians took the new ball after 80 overs and Starc steamed in — an LBW shout was turned down and dismissed on review, and the umpires then called a halt due to the light.
Of the Australian bowlers, Cummins finished with 2-59, Starc with 1-45, Hazlewood 0-51 and Lyon was the most economical with 0-40 off 24 overs.