Joe Root avoids a pair and could now lead England to a quite famous victory – the key points from Saturday at Headingley…
England kept their fading Ashes hopes alive with a battling start to what would be their highest run-chase, closing day three of the third Test on 156-3 in pursuit of 359, writes David Currie at Headingley.
Scorecard | Commentary
England’s gutsy effort was epitomised by their captain, Joe Root unbeaten on 75 at the close, having shared in a crucial 126-run partnership for the third wicket with Joe Denly (50) after the home side initially stumbled their way to 15-2 with the loss of their openers cheaply.
Root and Denly’s stand had Australia’s fearsome bowling attack searching for answers in the final session, but they ultimately found them in the form of Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazelwood, who bowled brilliantly in tandem – creating numerous chances – before the latter finally broke through.
Despite Denly’s wicket in the final hour, England will be dreaming of a historic triumph to match, perhaps even better the one they enjoyed against Australia on the same ground 18 years ago, when Mark Butcher struck a sublime 173 not out in chasing down 315.
Stats of the Day
Root claimed his 100th Test catch, moving him joint-eighth with Ian Bell on England’s all-time list. Root, at 28, is also the youngest Englishman to a century of outfield catches and the second fastest in terms of matches – his 84 games behind only Wally Hammond’s 76.
The Yorkshireman also avoided the ignominy of becoming the third England captain to record a pair in a Test match, after Nasser Hussain against West Indies in 2001 and Sir Ian Botham against Australia in 1981.
Moment of the Day
The beauty of a delivery from Pat Cummins that knocked the top of Jason Roy’s off stump, angling in, straightening and then hitting the target. It was a reminder of just why the Australia quick sits atop the Test bowling rankings – but was it the death knell for Roy as a Test opener? He has a very unwanted record at the top of the order…
Are we in for another remarkable Headingley run chase over 300? After Mark Butcher’s unbeaten 173 not out led England to a consolation Ashes win in 2001 and Shai Hope’s 118 not out steered West Indies to victory over England in 2017, a comeback victory remains very much on this time around.
Ben Stokes is coming off the back of a hundred at Lord’s and Root is well in. Sure, Australia do have the advantage of the second new ball in eight overs, and Messrs Bairstow, Buttler and Woakes are not in tip-top form with the bat but the pitch is pretty flat. Australia will be nervous…
WinViz still favours the Baggy Greens to secure an Ashes-retaining victory – they are 71 per cent to triumph, with England down at a lowly 28.
Tweets of the Day
That’ll be the second successive Ashes series where he has not got his hands on the urn and not many England captains get the chance of captaining in three Ashes series. He will have known all that, it was a hugely important innings and he played beautifully.”