Cricket-Ali strikes to remove dangerman Labuschagne to boost England hopes

By Peter Hall

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) -England spinner Moeen Ali struck late in the afternoon session to remove Marnus Labuschagne and leave Australia on 187-4 at tea on day one of the fourth Ashes test on Wednesday, ensuring another tantalising clash is finely poised.

Steve Smith had looked in good touch before lunch, steadying the ship after England had removed both Australian openers, but he was trapped leg before wicket five overs after the restart by Mark Wood, falling for 41.

Labuschagne moved past 50 for the first time in this Ashes series to put Australia in a commanding position. However, Ali struck to dismiss Labuschagne after a successful DRS review, with the Australian having added only one more run to his total.

Travis Head remains at the crease on 47, joined by centurion from the last test, Mitchell Marsh, both of whom England will be looking to remove quickly in the day’s final session.

Even with Jimmy Anderson back in the side, it was Stuart Broad who opened the bowling for England and caused the most problems early on, removing Australia opener Usman Khawaja in the fifth over.

That wicket took Broad to 599 in international test cricket and he would have fancied David Warner, who he has dismissed 17 times, as number 600, but it was Chris Woakes who struck to take the opener’s wicket, after he had played well to get to 33.

Following Smith’s departure, Head and Labuschagne both looked in good touch, putting on 59 for the third wicket, with Ali striking at the right time to break the partnership and boost home hopes.

A draw or a win for Australia in Manchester will ensure they retain the Ashes, while victory for the hosts brings the score level and takes this exhilarating series to a decider at the Oval in London next week.

(Reporting by Peter HallEditing by Christian Radnedge)