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Cricket - Australia head to Adelaide with confidence after Gabba breakthroughs

MELBOURNE : A revitalised Australia head to Adelaide brimful of confidence after dominating England in Brisbane and will feel confident a number of gnawing questions over selections have been put to bed.

Australia came into the Gabba match with queries over their middle order after Travis Head was dropped during the 2-1 series defeat against India during the last home summer and all-rounder Cameron Green failed to take a wicket.

Head's recall for the Ashes ahead of the more experienced Usman Khawaja proved polarising but the South Australian's sparkling 152 in the nine-wicket win at the Gabba has silenced debate over his place at number five in the batting order.

Number six Green was bowled for a duck failing to play a shot but his breakthrough, three-wicket haul in Brisbane was a thrill for a team which has searched in vain for a genuine all-rounder since the 2015 retirement of Shane Watson.

Alex Carey, who replaced former skipper Tim Paine behind the stumps, slotted in with aplomb, taking a record eight catches for a debutant wicketkeeper.

A number of other jigsaw pieces fell into place for the Australians, with spinner Nathan Lyon and paceman Mitchell Starc returning to form after their tough series against India.

"I was really happy that just about everyone fired," said new captain Pat Cummins.

"I thought the bowling unit together bowled really well and just about all the batters got going in the game."

Paceman Cummins had a stellar debut as captain, his match-high seven-wicket haul allaying fears he might struggle to juggle leadership with his bowling duties.

His willingness to defer some tactical decisions to vice captain Steve Smith paid dividends, and resulted in the key wicket of Ben Stokes on day four when Smith urged Cummins to insert himself into the attack to break a budding partnership with Jos Buttler.

Australia may need to shake things up a little in Adelaide, with paceman Josh Hazlewood nursing a side strain and opener David Warner struggling with bruised ribs.

Head coach and selector Justin Langer is generally loath to break up a winning team but Jhye Richardson is likely to play his third test in the pink ball clash at Adelaide Oval if Hazlewood is sidelined.

Australia have won every day-night test they have played, including the last Ashes clash in Adelaide during the 2017/18 series.

"It's a format we enjoy," said Cummins.

"History is great, but it doesn't count too much."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Source: Reuters
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