CARDIFF: Moeen Ali struck on the stroke of lunch to dismiss David Warner after he had led a bold start to Australia’s mammoth run chase on the fourth day of the first Ashes Test against England on Saturday.
Warner’s exit for 52 left Australia 97 for two at the interval at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens and needing a further 315 runs to reach what would be a new Ashes record fourth-innings winning total of 412.
Steven Smith, the world’s number one ranked Test batsman, was 29 not out after off-spinner Ali had Warner lbw as he shuffled across his stumps to a ball that came in on the angle rather than turned away from the left-hander.
It had seemed Australia, bidding for their first Ashes series win in Britain in 14 years, would get through the session for just the loss of Warner’s fellow left-handed opener Chris Rogers.
The most any side have made to win in the fourth innings of an Ashes Test was Australia’s 404 for three at Headingley back in 1948 when Arthur Morris scored 182 and Donald Bradman, widely regarded as cricket’s greatest batsman, an unbeaten 173.
But Ashes-holders Australia, who dismissed England on the stroke of Friday’s stumps for 289 in their second innings, knew they had two days in which to rewrite the record books as their openers walked out to bat under blue skies on Saturday.
A feature of this match had been England’s much-improved fielding but their first major blemish came on Saturday when third slip Joe Root dropped Rogers, then on four, off James Anderson despite getting both hands to the ball as he dived to his left.
Fortunately for England, it was not an expensive miss with Rogers out for 10 when he edged a sharply rising delivery from Stuart Broad low to Ian Bell at second slip to leave Australia 19 for one.
It was a fine reward for Broad during a miserly opening spell of one for 10 in six overs.
Warner, belying his reputation for all-out aggression, scored just one run in his first 23 balls but his next 49 came in 49 deliveries.
England captain Alastair Cook brought Ali on as first change but when he dropped short, Warner pulled him for six and cut him for four off consecutive balls only for the spinner to have his revenge on his return.