HOBART: England was finally off to its most promising start in the Ashes, reducing Australia to 85-4 at the first break in the day-night fifth test on Friday after world No. 1-ranked batsman Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed in bizarre fashion.
Labuschagne, who led a counter-charge with 44 runs off 53 balls, was clean bowled in an unusual style just before the first session ended when he appeared to slip in the crease and Stuart Broad (2-15) had the middle stump knocked back with the batsman falling over on his knees.
Ollie Robinson (2-15), one of the five changes made by England, and Broad made most of the favorable English-like overcast conditions and had Australia in early trouble at 3-12 after Joe Root won the toss and elected to bowl on a lively green wicket.
Zak Crawley took two smart catches in the slips, but dropped Labuschagne before he had scored as the righthander hit nine boundaries before Broad struck in his return spell. Head, who missed the last drawn test at Sydney, was not out on 31 off 33 balls and Cameron Green was not out on 2 at the break.
Broad troubled both England lefthanded openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja as he bowled three successive maiden overs before Warner edged Robinson to Crawley and fell for a 22-ball duck.
Khawaja, the twin century-maker in Sydney, also couldn't negotiate the seam of Broad and edged to slip after scoring six runs before Robinson found the thick outside edge of Steve Smith for duck as Australia slipped to its 12-3 inside the first 10 overs.
Labuschagne and Head then led the counter-attack with some crisp boundaries on both sides of the wicket and shared a 71-run stand against some loose bowling by Woakes and Wood.
England's wholesale changes included Jonny Bairstow, who sustained a thumb injury while helping England salvage a draw in Sydney and has joined wicketkeeper Jos Buttler (broken finger) in being an enforced omission for the Hobart test.
England also appeared to have run out of patience with out-of-form opener Haseeb Hameed, while Jimmy Anderson and Jack Leach were also been omitted. Australia won the first three matches in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne to clinch the series and retain the Ashes before the draw in Sydney.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)