MELBOURNE, Dec 26 (Reuters) - David Warner raced to a half-century as Australia’s openers pushed to 102 without loss at lunch on day one of the fourth Ashes test against England on Tuesday.
Warner was on 83 and Cameron Bancroft on 19 after home captain Steve Smith won the toss and had no hesitation putting his side into bat on a flat Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket.
In glorious sunshine in front of a huge Boxing Day crowd, vice captain Warner was positive from the outset and reached his fifty about half an hour before the break, pulling all-rounder Chris Woakes through midwicket to the fence.
The 31-year-old lefthander had 11 fours and a six by the interval and barely played a false shot to reach his 26th half-century as England’s bowlers laboured for no reward.
Australia, leading the series 3-0, regained the urn with victory in the third match at the WACA and are bidding to whitewash the tourists for a second consecutive home Ashes.
The MCG’s drop-in pitch is set to bake in warm summer weather in the opening days of the test, leaving Joe Root’s side with a task to contain the hosts’ batting.
Australia made one change to their side from the third test with right-arm pace bowler Jackson Bird coming in for injured left-armer Mitchell Starc.
England also made one change to the side that lost by an innings and 41 runs in Perth with Surrey seamer Tom Curran making his debut after Craig Overton was ruled out with a broken rib.
With front-line quicks James Anderson and Stuart Broad comfortably repelled, the 22-year-old South Africa-born Curran was introduced after Warner raised his fifty and went for four off his third ball, Bancroft slashing an edge over the slips.
Moeen Ali was inserted in the final over before lunch and was smashed for a six over his head by Warner with the third ball.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Peter Rutherford