The first Test of the 2023 Ashes is heading towards a thrilling finish, with Australia needing 174 runs to take a 1-0 lead at Edgbaston, the venue of the historic 2005 Test match between the two countries.

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Australia have been set a target of 281 to win the first Test against England, one fewer than the total they had to chase in the epic clash 18 years ago. England won the thriller, rated as one of the greatest Tests ever played, by two runs, and home fans will take hope from the parallels between the two games as Australia walk out to bat on day five tomorrow, needing a further 174 to win. The visitors needed 107 runs on the fourth day to win the second Test in 2005.

Batting first on both occasions, England set the tone with an aggressive batting display on day one, taking the attack to Australia as they embarked on a new style of play. The hosts managed to score 132-1 in 27 overs on lunch on the first day in 2005 at a run rate of 4.89, while the run rate in the ongoing Test in the first session by England was 4.70, as they made 124-3 in 26.4 overs.

England had ended their day, and innings, all out for 407 back in 2005 in 79.2 overs, and the 2023 Edgbaston Ashes Test saw the team walk out with similar intent, as they declared on 393-8 on day one, having batted 78 overs at a run rate of 5.03 – eerily similar to their run rate of 5.13 on day one 18 years ago.

Australia made 14-0 this time on day one, ensuring that a total of 407 runs were scored on the first day on both occasions.

While Brett Lee had conceded over six runs an over back then in the first innings, picking up one wicket, another quick from Australia, Scott Boland, conceded 6.14 runs in his 14 overs, ending with 1-86. Their poor form was overshadowed by the brilliance of Shane Warne and Nathan Lyon, respectively, with the duo ending with 4-116 and 4-149. Warne also picked up six wickets in the second leg, while Lyon ended with 4-80 to cap off memorable outings for the Australia spinners.

The two games were also defined by a similar scoring pattern by the England openers. In the first innings in 2005, Marcus Trescothick made 90 in 102 balls, while Zak Crawley’s 73-ball 61 set the stage for the team this time around. Both openers failed to make an impact in the second essay.

The 2023 clash has also been in the news for Ollie Robinson’s offensive send-off of Usman Khawaja, who top-scored with 141 in the first innings, with the quick defending his actions by saying, “We’ve all seen Ricky Ponting, other Aussies do the same to us.” In yet another coincidence, Ponting was indeed involved in a war of words with top-scorer Andrew Flintoff in the second innings of the 2005 Edgbaston Test. Flintoff later said, “I can never forget Ricky Ponting in the second innings sledging me.”

In the ongoing clash, Australia were led by Khawaja, who continued his excellent form, making his 14th fifty-plus score in 18 Tests, just like they were by another opener Justin Langer in 2005, who notched his 14th 50-plus knock in 23 innings when he made 82 in the first essay at Edgbaston. Their opening partners, David Warner and Matthew Hayden, failed to leave much of an impact on the game.

The highest-ranked Australia batter Ricky Ponting had been dismissed for a duck in the second innings, while the world’s No.1 Marnus Labuschange managed a golden duck in the first. Also, while Stuart Broad has managed to grab two of the first three wickets in Australia’s second innings, Flintoff had started the downfall then, picking up two of the three wickets that fell early on in the run chase.

In yet another similarity, Australia’s new ball bowlers – Lee and Pat Cummins – picked up four scalps apiece in the second innings, with the two also contributing valuable runs with the bat in the game. Cummins made 38 while batting at No.8 in the first innings, while Lee had scored an unbeaten 43 at No.10 in the second and was the lone man standing as England inflicted a crushing defeat after Australia recovered from 175-8 to get agonisingly close.

There was much talk in the build-up to the 2023 Ashes that it could be a series to rival 2005, seen as a seminal encounter by many in England and Australia. The early signs are that it could match it with an eerie similarity.