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Stoneman targets Aussies in exciting start to Perth Test

14 December 2017 05:48

Australia fought back before lunch after Mark Stoneman and James Vince had England flying early on day one of the third Ashes Test in Perth.

The aggression that had been largely missing during defeats in the first two Tests as Australia claimed a 2-0 lead in the blockbuster series was finally on show as England targeted Australia's bowlers on Thursday.

Stoneman (48 not out) and Vince produced a 63-run partnership following Alastair Cook's departure to put pressure on Australia's star bowling quartet of Mitchell Starc (1-30), Josh Hazlewood (1-18), Pat Cummins (0-17) and Nathan Lyon (0-16).

But Hazlewood struck with just minutes remaining in the morning session, getting Vince (25) to edge through to wicketkeeper Tim Paine as England made it to lunch 91-2 in their must-win clash at the WACA, where allegations of attempts to fix an Ashes Test following the publication of a media report overshadowed proceedings.

The Sun this week claimed its undercover reporters had been offered the opportunity to purchase details of supposed rigged periods of play in the third Test in Perth.

Cricket Australia said it will cooperate fully with any anti-corruption investigation, while the ICC said there is no evidence to suggest the Test at the WACA has been corrupted.

On the field, all eyes were on milestone man Cook in his 150th Test after Root – who named an unchanged line-up – avoided a repeat of antics in Adelaide, where he controversially sent the Aussies in to bat first as Steve Smith's men went on to win by 120 runs.

But Cook only lasted 16 deliveries amid England's flying start, the country's most capped player and leading runscorer trapped lbw by Starc for seven.

It continued Cook's underwhelming tour, having only managed scores of 37, 16, seven and two previously.

Opener Stoneman continued to play his shots, finding the boundary on eight occasions to close in on a third Test fifty.

England looked set to head into the break only one wicket down but Hazlewood sent Vince back to the pavilion to bring Root to the crease only minutes before lunch in a boost for the Australians, who made one change to their XI with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh recalled at the expense of batsman Peter Handscomb.

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