England made a fast start chasing 251 to win at Headingley and keep their Ashes hopes alive after Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Stuart Broad each struck the ball twice in an electrifying third evening.
Zak Crawley (8no) and Ben Duckett (11no) rattled to 27-0 from five overs under sunshine – which replaced the persistent rain from earlier in the day – as the requirement was reduced to of 224 due to three Duckett boundaries and one for Crawley.
Wet weather wiped out the opening two sessions of the third day of the third Test and then returned after just one innings as play resumed at 4.45pm with Australia 116-4 and ahead. at 142.
The second stoppage proved to be short-lived and when the cricket returned the fans were treated to a dazzling two and a half hours, following the remainder of a remarkable series, as Australia were bowled out for 224 in the first over. lead skies after adding 108 to their total, thanks especially to Travis Head’s 77.
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Australia have a 2-0 lead in the five-match series and will secure a first series win over England in 22 years if they win in Leeds, with England needing to win the final three Tests to reclaim the urn which Australia have held since drubbing their opponents 4-0 in 2017-18.
England seamers star but Stokes’ first-innings knock crucial
Woakes (3-68) dismissed first-innings centurion Mitchell Marsh (28) and Alex Carey (5), while Wood (3-66) accounted for Mitchell Starc (16) and Pat Cummins ( 1) to reduce Baggy Greens to 170 -8.
Australia’s lead was 196 at that point but Head and Todd Murphy (11) put on 41 for the ninth wicket before Murphy was pinned lbw by Broad (3-45) during a terrific over.
Broad then polished off the innings with half an hour left in the day when he poked Head at deep midwicket – the Australian fell soon after Wood was creamed for back-to-back sixes.
England’s bowlers gave them a chance to win but captain Ben Stokes kept them out of the game a day earlier as he scored an innings-reviving 80 off 108 balls while battling a glute issue. , who pushed his side from 142-7 to 237 all out as they had a first-innings deficit of just 26 runs.
Recent history suggests Headingley is a good place to chase with West Indies bowled out for 322 in 2017; a Stokes-inspired England who reached 359 against Australia in that remarkable 2019 Ashes Test; and the hosts scored 269 against New Zealand last summer.
The pitch showed signs of variable bounce and Australia had a good bowling attack, despite a cut by off-spinner Nathan Lyon after his series-ending injury in the second Test at Lord’s.
However, memories of Stokes’ 135 not out at Leeds four years ago are fresh in Australia’s mind – as well as his stunning 155 at Lord’s last Sunday – and despite the England skipper not worth much you can’t bet against him playing a decisive hand. at Headingley again.
Rain wiped out two sessions before electrifying the third
The rapid pace of this game – 24 wickets fell in the opening two days – meant that even a complete day-three washout was unlikely to prevent a positive result.
A cricketless Saturday looked possible at one point but the rain stopped just in time for the hosts to get the ball in their hands in good bowling conditions and they batted well enough.
Sky Sports’ Mark Butcher said there could be some “indecisiveness” from Australia and both Marsh and Carey were out as they looked to depart – Marsh slipping behind, Carey cutting.
Starc then bowled Wood behind square on the on side where Harry Brook settled under a steepling catch with a quick turn from short leg, before Cummins snicked behind Jonny Bairstow.
Heavy hitting on the head ensured that Australia added a further 54 runs from that point – 43 of them from his bat.
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