Melbourne : Australia showed their dominance with both bat and ball and were in a commanding position against England at the end of the opening day of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, here on Sunday.Marcus Harris (20 off 51) and Nathan Lyon (0 off 5) were unbeaten at the crease as Australia finished Day 1 of the third Test at 61/1, trailing by 124 runs.After bowling out England for 185 in their first innings, Australia began confidently and were cruising for the most part. With the pitch easing out, opener David Warner and Harris negotiated the initial overs expertly.The 35-year old Warner, in particular, was the aggressor of the two and hit some cracking boundaries as the pair soon brought up their fifty partnership.England finally got a breakthrough when James Anderson got Warner for 38 in the penultimate over before stumps. Warner looked to dab a good-length ball towards third man but got an outside edge to gully, where Crawley took a good diving catch in the front.However, Harris and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon ensured no further damage was done, returning unbeaten to the pavilion.Earlier, Australia opted to bowl after a 30 minutes delayed start due to a slight drizzle. Returning skipper Pat Cummins started strong, bowling testing lengths and lines to trouble England’s openers. He drew first blood in his opening over when Haseeb Hameed poked at a fuller delivery that shaped away a tad bit, falling for a 10-ball duck.The skipper then dismissed Zak Crawley (12) in his fourth over, leaving England teetering at 13/2 early in the third Test.However, England’s fight-back was led by skipper Root, who along with Malan added 48 runs for the third wicket.
The pair complemented each other well enough to keep Australia at bay for most parts until a lapse in the final minutes of the first session. Cummins was rewarded for his spectacularly consistent bowling as Malan (14) nicked in the last over of the morning session.The second session started well for England with Root getting to another fifty. But their misery continued when Root fell to Mitchell Starc soon after reaching the landmark. Ben Stokes (25) and Jonny Bairstow then forged a stand and kept the runs ticking without taking too many risks.However, Cameron Green was rewarded for some tidy bowling, as he picked the wicket of Stokes, who arched back in the crease to play the cut shot against a shorter ball and got out at point. England slipped further with Jos Buttler (3) falling to Lyon as the visitors went to Tea at 128/6.England’s struggle continued in the final session. Mark Wood (6) survived for 15 balls before falling lbw to Boland, who claimed his maiden Test wicket. Bairstow (35), who had held on until then, bravely holding onto one end, was undone by Starc’s short ball that reared onto him and had to be awkwardly fended off to the man at gully.Lyon then wrapped up the innings, getting Jack Leach (13) and Ollie Robinson (22) in back-to-back overs as England were bowled out for a meagre 185.After defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, England trail the best-of-five series 2-0 and now face an uphill task to keep this Ashes alive.Brief scores: England 1st innings 185 in 65.1 overs (Joe Root 50, Jonny Bairstow 35; Pat Cummins 3/36, Nathan Lyon 3/36) lead Australia 1st innings 61/1 (David Warner 38, Marcus Harris 20 not out; James Anderson 1/14) by 124 runs.