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Cummins leads Australia to opening Ashes win for the ages


Captain Clutch: Pat Cummins celebrates the winning runs in the first Ashes test at Edgbaston. Picture: Mike Egerton.

Pat Cummins has labelled Australia's epic two-wicket win over England as the greatest of his Test career after producing a captain's knock for the ages to kick off the Ashes in spectacular fashion.


Chasing 281 for victory, Australia looked gone at 8-227 at the start of the final hour of day five before Cummins and Nathan Lyon conjured their own miracle of Edgbaston. The pair put on 55 for the ninth wicket, with Cummins sealing victory at 7:21pm in Birmingham when Harry Brook bumbled a guided shot to third man over the rope.


Cummins finished the match on an unbeaten 44, Lyon finished with the most valuable 16 runs of his life and Australia took victory with 4.3 overs left in the Test match.


Cummins ranks the win as the best of his illustrious career which has included 51 test matches since 2011, 15 of which have come against England in Ashes series.


"That's number one, absolutely... At the start of an Ashes series, that's number one."

After first-innings centurion Usman Khawaja set up the chase with his 66, Australia's hopes looked shot when he played on to a Ben Stokes ball in the final session. Alex Carey then fell shortly after for 20, superbly caught-and-bowled by Joe Root when he smashed a ball straight back at him.


England were then left to rue several chances, including Root grassing a tough chance off Cummins when he was on six and Stokes putting down a diving outfield catch with Lyon on one. Suddenly, it was England who were guilty of being too defensive in the field as they left men on the boundary and allowed two bowlers to eke out the runs required.


But for Australia, this victory will mean so much as they seek their first Ashes series win in England since 2001. They have lost almost every close game they have played in the decade, and this was their best fourth-innings chase since Cummins hit them to victory on debut against South Africa in 2011.


Prior to Tuesday, they had also been beaten in every match against England, in Tests decided by three or less wickets or 15 runs, since 1926.


But now, just like Headingley 1981, Edgbaston 2005 and Headingley 2019, this Test will immediately go down in Ashes folklore.


"It felt like almost from the first session of day one, it was 50-50 all the way along," Cummins said.


"It never felt like it swung too far one way or another. And I reckon that was the same until about 15 minutes to go."


While Cummins was the star of the final hour, it was player of the match Khawaja who had his finest hour as a Test cricketer after years of torment in England.


It was the opener's century in the first innings that held Australia's response to England's 8(dec)-393 together, and ensured the tourists would almost reach parity in their 386.


Then after Stuart Broad ripped the heart out of Australia's top order on Monday night and nightwatchman Scott Boland (20), Travis Head (16) and Cameron Green (28) fell Tuesday, Khawaja remained resolute.


He barely offered a chance, accumulating singles without taking risks and keeping the calmest head in the midst of one of the most tense Test matches in years.


The 36-year-old faced 518 balls for the match, the most of any Australian in a Test this century, before he chopped on to Stokes.


"I'm not going to lie, I was absolutely s******g myself in the last five minutes," Khawaja admitted.


"I have never felt like this after a Test. We have had some hard times here."


Khawaja's measured approach came in stark contrast to that of England.


They changed the field almost by the minute on Tuesday in a bid to unsettle Australia, after delivering on their promise to play with fearlessness with the bat.


But, ultimately, their aggressive nature came back to bite them, with their first-innings declaration after 78 overs leaving behind runs that could have been crucial.


"Losing sucks. Any game you play, any sport you play, you always want to be the winner," Stokes said, while adamant he did not regret the declaration.


"It's not a psychological blow at all. It's obviously very disappointing, but it proves what we are capable of doing against Australia."


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