Captain Joe Root led England’s defiance as Australia’s bid to retain the Ashes title was delayed on day three of the third Test at Headingley in Leeds on Saturday.
Having limited Australia to 246 all out in the second innings, England moved to 156-3 on the back of Root’s unbeaten 75. The half-century was welcome relief for Root, who perished for a duck in the first innings – and last week’s second Test at Lord’s in London.
He relished solid support from middle-order batsman Joe Denly, who briefly silenced critics with a fighting 50. Denly’s berth in the first-choice XI has been the subject of conjecture, with the all-rounder waiting in the proverbial wings. The steely right-hander, though, shared a 136-run partnership with Root.
Their alliance was particularly important after openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy perished in quick succession. Roy again struggled to justify elevation to the Test XI despite a superb run of form at limited-overs level. The Durban-born right-hander has scored mere 57 runs in six innings in this series, so far.
Day four is poised for an intriguing passage of play. England require 203 runs for victory, while the Australians are in pursuit of seven wickets.
Australia won the first Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham by 251 runs earlier this month, while the second at Lord’s was drawn.
The Australians won the 2017-18 Ashes series 4-1. If they win at Headingley, the Ashes title will be retained. Defeats in the fourth and fifth matches at Old Trafford and The Oval, respectively, won’t affect the overall result – a series draw will suffice for Australia.
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