All-rounder Ben Stokes recovered from a fierce blow to the helmet to lead England to triumph in the third Ashes series Test with a sensational century at Headingley in Leeds.
Resuming on 156-3 overnight in pursuit of a 359-run target, England climbed to a triumphant 362-9 on day four.
The successful fourth-innings pursuit was the 10th highest – and England’s largest – in the history of Test cricket. The same venue had witnessed something similar in 1948, when Australia amassed 404-3 in the fourth innings to win the fourth Test.
Captain Joe Root shouldered plenty of responsibility ahead of Sunday, but ultimately couldn’t convert a promising half-century into a match-winning innings. Instead, Root perished to spinner Nathan Lyon. The dismissal, achieved after slip fielder David Warner took another catch, was Lyon’s 356th in Test match cricket.
He became the country’s fourth highest wicket-taker in the longest format of the international game, surpassing the veteran Dennis Lillee. Only leg-spinner Shane Warne and seamer Glen McGrath have more for Australia.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow offered all-rounder Ben Stokes solid support, but duo Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes didn’t follow suit. Stokes battled manfully to take the contest deep and relished late support in tailender Jack Leach.
The enterprising Stokes cleverly farmed the strike away from Leach and became increasingly combative en route to an entertaining century, which included a switch-hit for six off the bowling of Lyon. The tourists missed marginal chances during the closing 20 runs, as fortune favoured the brave Stokes.
Lyon would’ve sealed a run-out and one-run win for Australia, but fumbled the ball at the non-striker’s end during the penultimate over. Australia, too, would’ve removed Stokes lbw, had a review not been wasted a couple of overs earlier. The closing throes, indeed, were lined with drama. A near-packed Headingley crowd erupted in jubilation when Stokes stroked the boundary that sealed unlikely victory.
Australia won the first Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham by 251 runs earlier this month, while the second at Lord’s was drawn. The five-match series, therefore, is currently deadlocked at one-all.
The fourth Test will start in Manchester on 4 September. England and Australia are waiting on the fitness of fast bowler James Anderson and batsman Steven Smith, respectively. Anderson and Smith were sidelined for the Leeds fixture by respective calf and head injuries.
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