England cemented their grip on the fifth and final Ashes Test against Australia at the Oval after a dominant day three for the hosts which saw Joe Denly agonisingly miss out on a maiden ton.
Having taken a vital 69-run first innings lead, England drove home the advantage with the bat on Saturday with half-centuries from Denly and Ben Stokes helping them push their second innings total to 313-8 at stumps.
With their overall second innings lead now standing at a commanding 382, the hosts are well and truly in the driving seat to level the Ashes and restore some pride.
On a day that started and ended with England at the crease, we look at the key talking points.
New dad Denly makes it count
Having left the field to welcome the birth of his baby daughter on the second day, Joe Denly returned like a man inspired with the bat to notch up his third half-century of the series.
The makeshift opening batsman forged a 54-run opening stand along with Rory Burns, but it was his 127-run partnership with Ben Stokes for the third wicket that asserted England’s dominance on proceedings in the fifth Test.
Denly had his share of nervous moments – including a non-referred DRS call by Tim Paine – but the right-hander made it count with his best showing of the Ashes. The 33-year-old was even looking good for a maiden Test ton before his innings was cut short on 94 by an excellent Peter Siddle delivery.
Denly’s England Test career was on the line coming into the final Test but he might have just brought himself some more time with his third second-inning fifty.
Respect Joe Denly .. You may not have got the 💯 but you have proved many of us wrong .. fantastic application,determination & well done for booking your Air Ticket to the Winter tours ...😌 #Ashes 👍— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 14, 2019
DRS misses add to Paine and Australia’s woes
Tim Paine’s decision to bowl first on this Oval pitch is looking increasingly shocking with each passing session but the Australia skipper’s habitually poor use of the DRS did his team no favours either in a long and tiring day on the field for the visitors.
The wicketkeeperfailed to refer the decision when Mitchell Marsh struck Denly early on the pad, with replays confirming that the England opener would have been on his way. Later in the day, the Paine committed the same mistake when a Nathan Lyon delivery struck Jos Buttler leg before with the Australia skipper choosing to remain DRS-shy.
His overall use of the DRS in the Ashes has been as dismal as it gets, with the 34-year-old even suggesting that he would delegate those responsibilities to other players going forward. That clearly hasn’t gone to plan either as another horror reviewing day unfolded for the visitors at the Oval.
Between his decision to bowl first and the DRS errors, Paine might have just squandered his chance to become the first Australia skipper to win an Ashes series in England since 2001.
Buttler late show inflicts further misery on Australia
Like Denly, Australia’s reprieve to Buttler came back to bite them in the final session with the explosive England batsman’s cameo helping the hosts consolidate their advantage.
The right-hander was among the English batsmen who were under the scanner for poor form coming into the final Test but his solid showing in both innings at the Oval will alleviate any such concerns.
Having come up with an excellent 70-run knock in the first innings, Buttler cashed in on his good form with a rapid 47-run knock on Saturday. The 29-year-old crashed six boundaries during his entertaining stay at the crease and was set for his second successive fifty before Marcus Labuschagne pulled off a stunning catch running in from the deep.
Still, his match tally of 117 runs has put England in an excellent position to restore parity.
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