Australia beat England by two wickets to win first Ashes Test

Australia captain Pat Cummins, partnering with tailender Nathan Lyon, sealed a thrilling victory with an unbeaten 44.

Australia sealed a remarkable two-wicket victory over England in a thrilling climax to a gripping five-day battle in the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston in the city of Birmingham.

The visitors, set a 281 victory target, began a rain-delayed day on 107 for three but their chances looked remote when they were reduced to 227-8.

But Australia captain Pat Cummins, in partnership with Nathan Lyon, launched a fightback and sealed victory on Tuesday with an unbeaten 44.

In suffocating tension and with every ball like a mini-drama, Cummins struck the final boundary thanks to a fumble by Harry Brook to give his side a 1-0 lead in the series.

Unflappable Australia opening batsman Usman Khawaja had earlier kept his team on course for victory with a gritty innings to edge the visitors towards the target.

But in a barn-storming match full of momentum shifts, the pendulum swung England’s way when Khawaja was bowled by England skipper Ben Stokes for 65.

When Joe Root held a caught-and-bowled chance to remove Alex Carey, England seemed to be close to victory. But Cummins refused to buckle, hitting Root’s off-spin for two sixes in one over as England delayed taking the new ball.

Australia’s ninth-wicket partnership was worth 55 runs from 72 balls with Lyon chipping in with 16.

Australia is now 1-0 up in this five-match series as they bid for a first Ashes campaign triumph on English soil in 22 years.

“I honestly felt pretty good when I came to the wicket because the pitch didn’t have any demons in it,” Cummins said.

“Both teams spoke a lot about playing your own style. And that’s the beauty of this series. Two contrasting styles, playing to our strengths and that made for great entertainment.”

Cummins praised the player of the match, Khawaja, saying, “Incredible composure, he played his own method, didn’t get caught up … I’m really happy for him.”

It was the second-highest successful victory chase at Edgbaston and made up for Australia’s heart-breaking loss to England on the same ground in 2005 when they fell three short of chasing down 282.

World Test champions Australia, as they promised beforehand, played in their traditional fashion rather than getting drawn into the hype surrounding England’s aggressive style under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

England’s “Bazball” style, full of funky field placings, inventive strokes and Twenty20-like scoring rates, had seen them in the driving seat for much of the match.

But Stokes’s decision to declare the first innings on 393-8 on a frenetic first day, returned to haunt him with such a small margin dividing the teams at the end.

This was just England’s third defeat in 14 Tests under Stokes and McCullum, with the skipper defending his first-innings declaration before the close of the opening day.

“I thought that was a time to pounce. I am not going to change the way I have gone about my cricket because it is the Ashes,” he said.

“Who knows, we could have got an extra 40 runs or lost two wickets in two balls. I am not a captain who gets by on what-ifs.”

Stokes promised that Australia can expect plenty more curve balls thrown their way in the four remaining matches in the series, beginning at Lord’s next week.

“It was a rollercoaster with ups and downs and a game we will never forget,” he said. “We stuck to our guns on how we would operate and carried on from the last series we played.”

“We are going to continue to keep coming at Australia.”

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