Victory looms for ruthless Aussies
AUSTRALIA is on the verge of clinching a remarkable landslide Ashes victory in Brisbane, after a resounding team effort left England back at square one.
David Warner and Cameron Bancroft breathed life into a promising new opening combination, and Mitchell Starc opened old scars with the English tail to turn what was a pulsating arm wrestle into a technical knockout in the blink of an eye.
England are now facing a multitude of problems heading into the second Test in Adelaide after their carefully crafted game plan to suffocate Australia failed to come off and ultimately blew up in their face.
Australia need just 56 runs to go 1-0 up in the series when play resumes on Monday, after Warner and Bancroft ruthlessly batted England out of contention to finish 0-114 at stumps on day four.
Chasing just 170 for victory, the bull and the young buck from Western Australia carved out their first hundred-run partnership that left England spearhead Jimmy Anderson a frustrated rabble.
Steve Smith's inspiring hundred has undoubtedly been the catalyst, but the most promising thing about this looming triumph for Australia is that so many players have rallied in what was for the most part a ding dong battle.
When England captain Joe Root passed 50 before lunch, the visitors were looking ominous, only for Josh Hazlewood to put an inconsistent Test behind him and crash into the skipper's pads to trap him lbw.
The turning points just kept on coming when some sharp work from Tim Paine off Nathan Lyon stumped the dangerous Moeen Ali for 40 - with the third umpire convinced there was not a millimetre of his boot behind the white line.
Starc then delivered his best Mitchell Johnson impersonation to date when he decimated Stuart Broad and the English tail with a withering spell of fast bowling that saw three wickets fall in the space of just 10 balls.
Shane Warne was adamant England needed only to set a target of 230 to pave the way for an epic finish, but in a flash, that dream was over and they failed to pass 200.
Suddenly there a serious question marks hanging over this England squad.
Alastair Cook failed twice to leave England great Kevin Pietersen questioning whether the former captain has lost his drive.
Then Anderson fell in a heap as he hunted desperately for a late breakthrough, repeatedly throwing the ball back at the stumps - at one point striking an unmoving Bancroft flush in the thigh.
England's no-name top order Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan proved many doubters wrong, but in the end made little impact.
Stuart Broad was confidently defending England's clear tactics to slow down run-scoring and take time out of the match - but in the final wash-up it would appear they've learnt a hard lesson that you need to advance the game if you want to win on Australian soil.
Starc's short-pitched bowling at the end was merciless, leaving Broad, Chris Woakes and Jake Ball ducking for cover.
A target of 170 could have quickly become a nervous one had Warner and Bancroft failed to get off to a strong start.