As England captain, Joe Root reaps the advantages of Australia’s blunders in the fifth Test.

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As England captain, Joe Root reaps the advantages of Australia’s blunders in the fifth Test.

England captain Joe Root’s half-century from 105 balls on Day 1 of the Ashes fifth Test at The Oval puts the Three Lions in good shape against Australia.

With his fourth half-century of the series, Joe Root made Australia pay for a third dropped catch at tea on the first day of the last Test.

At the end of the afternoon session, England had moved into a respectable position of 169-3, making the most of Tim Paine’s side’s shoddy performance.

As the tourists’ gamble to bowl first failed, England captain Joe Root was awarded two lives before lunch, first by Peter Siddle on 24 and then by Tim Paine on 25.

The Australian mistakes didn’t stop there, as Steve Smith, who was generally so dependable, blew another chance at second slip with 30 on the board.

Siddle was the unlucky bowler, with the ball flashing wide of Smith at second slip after catching the edge of his bat.

Smith’s instincts were good, and he was able to get two hands on the ball, but his execution was lacking.

At tea, Root was unbeaten on 57, with Jonny Bairstow on 22 not out, but Australia was helped by wickets falling at the other end in a close second session.

When Josh Hazlewood got one to rise into Rory Burns’ ribs, the opener fended the ball to mid-on, he fell three short of his half-century.

Ben Stokes made it three when he toe-ended Mitch Marsh to the point where Nathan Lyon caught the ball.

On a day when both teams appeared flat, it was difficult not to believe that Australia had made a mistake, first in deciding to bowl on a track with little mischief and then in a painfully careless fielding showing.

Root, on the other hand, will be unconcerned, believing he deserved a break after being the first England skipper to bowl three ducks in a series.

The England captain has now reached 50 four times and has unable to convert any of the first three into three figures after Australia dried up leaky bowling in the middle session.

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