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Buttler counterpunch rescues England after Marsh sparks collapse
Match Report

Buttler counterpunch rescues England after Marsh sparks collapse

Jos Buttler saved England from a precarious position to lift his side's total to 271-8 at the end of the opening day of the fifth Ashes Test.

England, vying to square the series and add 24 valuable points to their tally in the World Test Championship table, faltered from 170-3 to 226-8 before finding respite in Buttler's late onslaught.

After a timid start to his innings, Buttler quickly transitioned into white-ball mode as he cleared his front leg to clear the boundary fence a few times.

He smashed Josh Hazlewood for two successive sixes signaling his resolve to continue attacking the opposition bowlers.

Buttler ended the day at 64 not out with Jack Leach providing him sturdy support on the other end.

Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, a surprise inclusion into the playing XI, took the bowling honours on day one as he claimed four wickets.

The tourists' new-ball duo of Pat Cummins and Hazlewood once again impressed in what seemed like good batting conditions while Peter Siddle failed to get a wicket.

Australia, in pursuit of their first Ashes win on English soil since 2001, put the home side in to bat first.

Although the pacers drew the edges of the England batsmen, the Australian fielders could not hold on to their chances allowing the hosts the advantage in the first two sessions.

England skipper Joe Root was dropped a total of three times but could manage 57 runs before his nemesis Cummins cleaned him up.

Root's horrendous conversion rate comes into perspective again as he boasts 45 half-centuries as opposed to 16 hundreds in Test cricket.

In comparison, Australia's Steve Smith has reached fifty 52 times and made an astonishing 26 centuries.

Root rides his luck

Root had his first let-off when he was batting on 24 and pulled the ball towards Siddle on the boundary, who spilled an easy chance.

Later, wicketkeeper Tim Paine misjudged the ball carrying through to him at an awkward height and could not grasp it.

Shortly after lunch, Root had his third reprieve of the day when Smith stretched his arms to a tough chance only to grass it.

Root then drove Hazlewood square of the wicket to reach the landmark of 7,000 Test runs becoming the fourth-fastest English player to this milestone.

The 28-year-old finally ran out of luck as Cummins got the better of him.

The returning Marsh then scythed through England's batting line-up to leave the hosts stunned at what transpired in the third session.

Jonny Bairstow's dismissal was followed by Sam Curran getting out to a reckless drive right after an aggressive start to his brief stay at the crease.

Earlier, opener Rory Burns and Ben Stokes erred in their ill-timed strokes that ultimately resulted in their dismissals.

England's abysmal opening pair was uncoupled swiftly as the innings began - a template that has been followed throughout the series.

Joe Denly, promoted to the opening slot the third time across two matches, was found wanting by a Cummins delivery that generated sideways movement.

Australia currently possess an unassailable 2-1 lead in the Ashes series and will retain the prized urn regardless of the result at The Oval.

But Paine emphasized his side were focused on completing a historic win.

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