The Ashes: England give themselves glimmer of hope as they chase 203 to win against Australia – The Sun

ENGLAND dipped their Joes in the water and came up with something different and rather special.

Joe Root and Joe Denly batted patiently together for a long period at Headingley on Saturday and discovered it is not impossible to stay in.

Praise be, they produced what is known in cricket as a partnership.

And their liaison of 126 for the third wicket has given England hope they can pull off a win that would be little short of miraculous.

After many months of largely chucking away wickets and being dismissed for low totals, England finally got the message that Test cricket requires application and adhesion.

What a contrast from the shambles of their 67 all out on Friday.

By the close of day three, they had reached 156-3 and today (Sun) need another 203 to win the Third Test.


Captain Root will resume with 75 not out and vice-captain Ben Stokes has so far made two off 50 balls Now that really is showing discipline and restraint.

Root and Stokes will be the two key figures if England are to score 359 and complete their biggest fourth innings chase of all time and the tenth-highest by any country.

If England could pull off a remarkable victory, it would transform the series. It goes without saying there is a massive difference between being 2-0 down – with the Ashes retained by Australia – and 1-1 with two matches to play.

When England were 15-2 in their second innings, with Rory Burns and Jason Roy dismissed, nothing looked more certain than a crushing defeat.

But the two Joes displayed many of the qualities required to score runs in Test cricket against high-class bowling.

It is about leaving the ball, defending, blocking and picking off the loose deliveries and those in their scoring areas. Wearing down the bowlers, making the ball go soft – exactly what they didn’t do in the first innings.

Their stand spanned 53 overs which is almost exactly double the whole of England’s pitiful effort 24 hours earlier.

Root and Denly both found it tough at times. Root was dismissed first ball and second ball in his two previous innings and was still below his absolute best. But his innings was a tremendously resilient effort under the most extreme pressure.

Denly, fighting for his place amid much muttering about his being short of international quality, was struck twice by Pat Cummins – once nastily on the head – and played and missed several times.

But, the longer they batted, the more frustrated and ragged the Aussies became. That’s what happens when teams have to work hard for their wickets.

For example, Marcus Harris mis-fielded the first ball after tea and Root’s cover drive yielded four runs rather than zero.

On 59, Root was given out lbw to Josh Hazlewood by Chris Gaffaney but replays showed a big inside edge.

Root and Denly were still together deep into the final session until another short ball from the outstanding Hazlewood took Denly’s glove through to wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Nathan Lyon – apparently mocking England with 67 on his back, which happens to be his normal number – also caused plenty of problems after tea but remained wicketless.

In the morning, Australia advanced from 171-6 to 246 all out. James Pattinson edged to slip and Cummins steered to gully.

Marnus Labuschagne, after taking a couple more blows to the bonce, was run out by Denly’s throw from third man attempting a second after a mis-field.

England made their usual disastrous start when Burns edged to slip a ball he could have left and Roy lost his balance and was bowled by a beauty.

Yet again, England’s openers had failed to negotiate the first ten overs.

But Root and Denly displayed some good, old-fashioned Test match batting.and it worked.

An England win remains a long shot but at least they are showing some fight and nous.

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