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England wins toss, bats 1st in Ashes opener vs Australia

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) England captain Joe Root has won the toss and chose to bat first in the Ashes series opener against Australia.

The decision will put the much-hyped pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins under the spotlight from the first ball of the first test at the Gabba, where the Australians haven’t lost a test since 1988.

Vice-captain David Warner recovered from a neck strain to take his place in the Australian lineup, and Shaun Marsh proved his fitness after reporting a sore back following practice on the eve of the match.

Root said England had three good warmup matches and had gathered momentum.

England holds the Ashes after winning the 2015 series 3-2 at home, and has had the better of cricket’s oldest high-profile bilateral contests in the last decade with four wins in the last five series.

But the Australians swept England 5-0 in 2013-14 in the last Ashes series Down Under.

Root, who played four of the five tests on his last trip to Australia, said there were no scars for his team.

”For me it’s completely irrelevant what happened four years ago,” Root said. ”We’ve won four of the last five Ashes.”

The Australians are relying on Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins – all playing their first Ashes test on home soil – to repeat the intimidating performances of the fast bowling trio three years ago.

”These guys are just as nasty, if not more nasty to be perfectly honest,” Australia captain Steve Smith said on Wednesday.

The Australians have made changes to the lineup, with Tim Paine recalled as wicketkeeper for his first test in seven years at the expense of Matthew Wade, and Cameron Bancroft set to make his test debut in place of opener Matthew Renshaw.

Jake Ball has been confirmed as the fourth seamer for England after overcoming an ankle injury. Ball, who has played three tests, will join Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes in the pace attack. Moeen Ali, the spin-bowling allrounder, is expected to bat at No. 6 or No. 7.

Lineups:

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

England: Joe Root (captain), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, Jimmy Anderson.

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