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England crush Australia to level Ashes series 2-2
Match Report

England crush Australia to level Ashes series 2-2

England achieved a commanding 135-run win over Australia in the final Ashes Test to square the hard-fought series 2-2.

Although the drawn series means Australia retain the prized urn, England end their World Cup-winning home season on a high with a pride-salvaging victory at The Oval.

Australia, in pursuit of the colossal target of 399, began in familiar fashion as the opening pair of Marcus Harris and David Warner failed to deliver once again.

Veteran England paceman Stuart Broad accounted for both wickets as the hosts kept the pressure on the subsequent batsmen.

The tourists still harboured faint hopes of surmounting the enormous target to seal their first Test series win in England since 2001 while Steve Smith was out in the middle.

But Smith, boasting an astronomical tally of 774 runs in just seven innings across the series, was dismissed for 23 by Broad to dent Australia's progress.

Smith played into the trap set by the England team as a tickle down the leg-side was snaffled by a diving Ben Stokes at leg slip.

Contrary to the trend of loud jeers greeting Smith every time he walked to bat, the 30-year-old was ushered off the field to a standing ovation from the crowd.

The departure of Smith left Australia at a perilous 85-4 in the post-lunch session.

Matthew Wade then defiantly withstood the England pace attack and scored a sublime century during his valiant stay at the crease.

He even indulged in an exciting battle with Jofra Archer as the two often exchanged barbs amidst their effervescent rivalry.

Wade's heroic resistance finally came to an end when he was lured forward by England captain Joe Root and was stumped by Jonny Bairstow.

The last two men were dismissed in successive deliveries as Broad and Jack Leach shared the honours with four wickets each in England's emphatic triumph.

Smith finally falters

England's overnight batting duo of Leach and Archer could add just 16 runs in the morning session before the home side was all out for 329.

The 33-year-old Broad then pounded in a rip-roaring spell with the new ball to send Harris' off-stump cartwheeling in the fifth over of the Australian innings.

In his proceeding over, Broad found the outside edge of Warner to get him out for the seventh time in the series.

Warner, who earlier this summer finished as the second-leading run-getter in the World Cup, accumulated a paltry sum of 95 runs across 10 innings in the series.

His dismissal brought Smith on strike, who started his innings with a delectable cover drive off Archer's bowling to dispatch the ball to the boundary fence.

However, Smith's penchant for piling on heaps of runs evaded him on the fourth day of the Ashes finale as he could not make a fifty-plus score in the series for the first time.

Despite his odd failure, the world number one Test batsman's run haul puts him fifth on the list of highest tallies in an Ashes series.

Australia required nothing short of a miracle to register their second-highest successful chase in Test cricket but their over-reliance on Smith's prowess was exposed today.

Wade lacked support from his batting partners as no other Australian player exceeded a score of 25 barring the left-handed batsman's 117.

The tied series implies the two sides have an equal number of points on the World Test Championship table.