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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
George Sessions

Day three of fifth Ashes Test: England looking to build commanding lead

PA Wire

England will hope to set a match-winning total when they begin their second innings on day three of the fifth Ashes Test.

Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett will walk out at the Kia Oval with Australia holding a narrow 12-run lead after the tourists were all out for 295 from the last ball on Friday night.

Australia had gone along at a pedestrian rate in the morning before wickets tumbled regularly, but Steve Smith’s 71 and late blows from Pat Cummins and Todd Murphy saw the tourists go beyond England’s 283.

Smith received a lifeline on 44 after substitute fielder George Ealham came agonisingly close to his own Gary Pratt moment and now all eyes are on England’s batters as they look to level the series.

View from the dressing room

I would love to see us get 300+ and put some pressure on them. We need a day of feet up for the bowlers to come back refreshed.
— James Anderson to BBC's Test Match Special

Superstitious Stu!

Australia crawled along at a snail’s pace during the opening hour of day two and, whether by coincidence or chance, it took Stuart Broad witchcraft to inspire a change in fortunes.

Labuschagne had scored nine runs from 81 deliveries before Broad decided to rearrange the bails ahead of the fifth ball of the 43rd over. Seconds later and Mark Wood found the edge where Joe Root took a stunner at first slip.

Broad’s agent of chaos act worked a treat and he has not ruled out a repeat when Australia are chasing. “It was a pretty successful result wasn’t it? So, I think if the game gets tight I might wander up again,” the England seamer smirked.

Honours up for grabs

  1. Stuart Broad - 20 - Nine innings
  2. Mitchell Starc - 19 - Six innings
  3. Pat Cummins - 17 - Eight innings
  4. Chris Woakes - 15 - Five innings
  5. Josh Hazlewood - 15 - Six innings

After Wood’s breakthrough, Broad got on a roll after lunch with Khawaja and Travis Head out in quick succession to move the veteran on to 20 scalps for the series and bring up the 150-mark for Test wickets against Australia.

Broad has plenty of Aussies for company at the top of the wicket-takers column in this series and Mitchell Starc (19), Pat Cummins (17) and Josh Hazlewood (15) will get one last opportunity to bump up their numbers when they try to bowl England out for an attainable target on day three.

Remarkably, Chris Woakes is now up to 15 dismissals despite featuring in only five innings. Before he gets the chance to improve his figures, he may bat at three with Moeen Ali only able to come in after 120 minutes of England’s innings on Saturday or after the fall of their fifth wicket.

Jimmy jumping for joy!

James Anderson has endured a tough series, claiming only four wickets in three Tests before this outing, but he was able to bring the Kia Oval crowd to their feet with the crucial scalp of Mitch Marsh.

Marsh dragged onto leg stump in the opening over of Anderson’s first spell from the Pavilion End during a purple patch for the hosts on Friday afternoon.

It helped cement England’s grip on the contest at this point, with five wickets falling in the middle session and Australia walking off on 186 for seven.

‘You cannot do that’

On a day where plenty of fielders took centre stage, Ben Stokes saved the best until last.

During the final over on Friday, Cummins tried to launch Root into the stands and almost succeeded, but Stokes leapt to take the catch at long on before he threw the ball up in the air as he was about to stumble over the boundary rope.

England’s captain was then able to step back onto the turf and collect the catch at the second time of asking to bring Australia’s first innings to an end on 295 and set up an exciting third day.

Boy George is that the difference?

While England’s energy is now firmly on batting, you have to wonder what might have been had substitute fielder Ealham written his name into Ashes folklore with the dismissal of Smith.

Smith looked to complete a risky two in Australia’s 78th over, but Ealham sprinted in from the boundary rope and hurled in a hard, flat throw that forced the Aussie batter to dive to make his ground.

It provoked memories of Pratt’s memorably ran out Ricky Ponting during the 2005 Ashes, but TV umpire Nitin Menon eventually ruled Smith not out.

Replays showed Jonny Bairstow may have nudged one of the bails out of its groove before taking the ball and further clips highlighted how both ends of the bail may not have left their grooves before Smith made it home.

Smith was on 44 and the scoreboard briefly showed Australia on 195 for eight. He would subsequently make 71. How crucial may they prove?

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