:: Peoples Time Online ::
Joe Root and Joe Denly kept Australia at bay on the third day of the third Ashes Test with a century stand. Root, who had copped his second successive duck in the first innings, stood up when it mattered most to lead from the front with an unbeaten 72 taking England to 156 for 3 when stumps were drawn on Saturday (August 24), giving them an outside chance of a victory, or at least keeping them alive in the game.
Root and Denly came together when England were 15/2 and revived their innings with patience, character and a lot of skill. Given the position that England were in after being bowled out for 67 in the first dig, they needed to put their A game forward if they had to even compete in this Test. And that’s exactly that Root did, leading from the front. The pair was scratchy to begin with but gradually found their feet, keeping the scoreboard ticking and countering Australia’s attack. Root took the pressure off of Denly once the runs started coming.
James Pattinson bowled a fraction short on a pitch that favoured bowling fuller and one that was easing up to assist the batsmen, while Nathan Lyon’s angle – who wasn’t getting too much of turn – that he got going around the wicket to Root only made it easier for the England skipper to settle in and it was smooth sailing for him after an initial hustle. Australia used the short ball against Denly well, keeping him pinned in his crease, but for most part, he ducked under and saw them through. Once the partnership crossed the 100-run mark, there was a small period where a number of appeals went up. Australia even lost a review after challenging a leg-before call off Denly that wasn’t given. Tim Paine reviewed but the ball was found going well down leg.
It was in the phase where Australia tightened the noose conceding just six runs in seven overs and were rewarded with the wicket they were looking for to break the 126 -run stand. It was the short ball from Hazlewood that did Denly in for 50 – a delivery he was uncomfortable against through the innings. Root and Ben Stokes thereafter took England to stumps without further damage.
The innings had come a long way from how it started, when Rory Burns fell to another short ball off Josh Hazlewood, edging to David Warner in the slips against a vicious delivery that he couldn’t do much about. Jason Roy’s woes as an opener continued, undone by a jaffa from Pat Cummins in the next over that angled in, but straightened out to knock offstump. Cummins, in tandem with Hazlewood, who were getting the ball to seam and swing, caused the English batsmen trouble with them even copping some blows. Root and Denly, however weathered the storm, and put England back on track in a daunting chase.
The target of 359 had been set by Australia who frustrated England in the opening session before they were bowled out. Marnus Labuschagne led the way with a well-made 80, and with the Australian tail added 75 runs to keep England at bay.
There were fumbles in the field, overthrows and run-out chances missed. Labuschagne was handed yet another life being after being spilled behind the stumps. What should’ve been a straightforward slip-catch was interrupted by Jonny Bairstow, who went for it but couldn’t hold on. And to add to their woes, Australia’s runs came at a good pace as James Pattinson and Labuschagne added fifty for the seventh wicket.
There was quite a bit of uneven bounce, but the Australian batsmen tackled it well. Jofra Archer who didn’t bowl too much last evening with cramps in his left thigh provided England the break they were looking for as Root picked up his 100th Test catch with Pattinson having edged to slip. He then struck Labuschagne flush on the grill, like he did at Lord’s, as the batsman fell to the ground as Archer upped his speed. The batsman responded with some with clever use of the pace and bounce to ramp it over slips for a boundary.
Stokes was in the middle of another marathon spell when he was rewarded with Cummins’s wicket off a bouncer. Two overs later, Labuschagne was run-out for 80, and England were close to the end with Archer dealing the batsmen repeated blows. He wrapped up proceedings after breaching Lyon’s defence as Australia were knocked over for 246, and setting England a target of 359, for which their hopes now rest heavily on their captain.