England finally managed to break the resistance of Mathew Wade as they defeated Australia by 135 runs in the final Ashes Test to level the series 2-2 at The Oval on Sunday. Wade batted brilliantly for his 117 and was the lone fighter in Australia’s unsuccessful chase of 399. Partnering tailenders Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins, Wade added 52 and 44 for the sixth and seventh wicket respectively, in a desperate effort to pull off a miracle on Sunday. Skipper Joe Root (2/26) sent Marsh packing, Stuart Broad got the better of Cummins. Broad with his figure of 4/62 and Jack Leach with 4/49 were the stars of the pack for the English bowlers. Also, this is the first time men’s Ashes series ended in a draw since 1972.
Australia’s ‘Player of the Series’ – Steve Smith failed to replicate his heroics during the chase as he was dismissed on 23 by Broad. Given his exploits throughout the series, much of Australia’s hopes to chase the daunting total were rested on his shoulders. But he could not run his tricks for one last time as Broad got him out off a short of the length-delivery which was taken in the leg gully by Ben Stokes.
Earlier, a culminating batting effort in the second innings had seen England cross the 300-mark and post a commendable target for the visitors to chase. Joe Denly with his gritty 94 was the star of the pack for the hosts, along with Ben Stokes who scored 67 and partnered the opener for a stand of 127 for the fourth wicket. Important contribution of 47 from Jos Buttler down the order further helped the home team’s cause. Nathan Lyon with his four-for, which came at the cost of 69 runs, was Australia’s best bowler in the second innings.
In the first innings, too, the visiting team were bundled out for a below-par score of 225. Riding on Jofra Archer’s onslaught, the Root and Co. managed to keep the tourists in check and took a crucial 69 runs lead in the first innings. Archer rattled the Aussie batting line-up as he turned the heat on at The Oval with his fiery pace and deadly movements off the deck. However, Smith managed to battle his wrath to some extent and scored 80 for his team to cross the 200-mark, which at one point looked improbable.
Batting first in their bid to level the series, England did not have the greatest of the starts. But skipper Joe Root, with his 57, had steadied the ship to some extent before Mitchell Marsh ran through the middle-order for his first fifer in red-ball cricket. Marsh returned with the figure of 5/46. Jos Buttler resisted hard for his 70 and built some crucial partnerships with the tailenders to take his team to a commendable total of 294.