Australia’s grip on the Ashes urn tightened on the fourth day of the third Test. The hosts need six more wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 lead while England require 127 runs to make Steve Smith’s men bat again.
Smith’s double ton had given the hosts a 259-run lead in the first innings as the hosts declared for 662-9. Rain showers brought a hasty end to the fourth day’s play with the visitors staring down the barrel at 132-4. England’s first-innings centurions Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow were holding fort when stumps were called.
Here, we look at the key talking points of the day.
PAT CUMMINS STARS WITH THE BAT ONCE AGAIN
England might have thought they were in with a chance to bowl Australia out in the morning session itself when James Anderson sent Smith and Mitchell Marsh back to the dressing room within the first five overs of the day. Mitchell Starc too followed soon after a dreadful mix-up with Tim Paine resulting in a run-out.
However, Pat Cummins, as he has done all throughout the Ashes, frustrated the English bowlers as he put together a 93-run stand for the eighth wicket along with Paine.
Cummins was eventually dismissed for 41 runs, his fourth score of 40 plus in the series, underlining his rising status as a bowling all-rounder. Paine remained unbeaten on 49 as the declaration came but the lower order resistance showed by the Aussies has made England’s task of retaining the Ashes all the more difficult.
STUART BROAD’S STRUGGLES
The senior England bowling stalwart has not had the desired impact he would have liked in the series so far. The 31-year-old was decent without being eye-catching as he picked up five wickets in the opening two Tests.
His performance at the WACA though will be one to forget for Broad. While all five of the front-line bowlers went for over a 100 runs each in the first innings, none was more expensive than Broad as the Aussie batters scored 142 runs in his 35 overs.
The pacer went wicket-less once again to record his worst bowling figures in his 112-match long Test career.
ENGLAND’S SENIOR PROS DISAPPOINT WITH THE BAT
While Alastair Cook’s woeful form has been the subject of intense discussions, Joe Root has perhaps not done justice to his talent too. While the England skipper has hit two fifties in the series so far, he has failed to convert them into big ones unlike his opposite counterpart Smith. This perhaps, has been the main cause of the gulf in class between the two sides so far in the Ashes.
Cook’s struggles continued on Sunday as Josh Hazlewood latched on to an impressive return catch after a leading edge from the England opener. That the senior most England batsmen has yet to complete a century of overall runs in his six innings so far in the series is a damning indictment of his horrendous run.
Root himself was dismissed for just 14 runs as the wait for a big score from him in the series continues. With a batting line-up riddled with inexperience, the failure of England’s senior pros has cost them big Down Under.
MITCHELL STARC REMOVES JAMES VINCE WITH THE BALL OF THE ASHES
After a top-order collapse by the tourists, James Vince had prevented further damage with a dogged half-century. While the dismissals of those before him might have been to rash shots, there was nothing Vince could do about his.
Starc finally showed why he has been talked up so much in the build-up to the series with an absolute snorter of a delivery that left Vine with no chance. Bowling from around the wicket, the left-handed pacer’s delivery pitched on middle-stump before coming in sharply to uproot Vince’s leg-stump. It was a delivery that former Pakistan swing legend Wasim Akram would be proud of.
RAIN GIVES TOURISTS HOPE
The showers in the final session of the day gave England a reprieve after they had lost four early wickets. The weather forecasts for Monday might give the tourists a slight glimmer of hope in their battle to save the Test.
With more rains forecast for the final day, Smith and the Aussies will be hoping to bundle out England as soon as possible on the last day of the Test.
It could all be set up for a nail-biter of a final day where with rain thrown into the equation, the visitors will need to dig in to hold on to a famous draw while the hosts will be charged up in their bid to retain the Ashes.
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