The 2019 Ashes series remains delicately poised after an amazing innings by England’s Ben Stokes at Headingley.
Australia won the first test convincingly by 251 runs before a rain-hot second test ended with a draw. The third test saw the Aussie bowling attack bowled out England for only 67 runs in the first innings. This left an ambitious chase target of 359 runs.
Bookmakers priced an England victory at 4/9 at the start of the final day as they were 156/3. England required another 203 runs for victory and had their captain Joe Root on an unbeaten 75. Root only managed to add another two runs to his total after Nathan Lyon took his 356th test wicket to move to the top of Australia’s all-time highest Test wicket-takers.
England were still in control when Jonny Bairstow was dismissed for 36, but then it all started to unravel. A string of wickets in quick succession saw England move from favourites to 25/1 outsiders. Tailender Jack Leach came in at number 11 when England required 76 more runs and the writing looked on the wall for the home side.
Stokes put on a scintillating display of batting, hitting boundaries seemingly for fun. Stokes was dropped then Australia used a review for an lbw shout that was never in a million years going to be given out. It wasn’t and the England revival continued.
There was a huge shout for lbw against Stokes but Australia had no reviews left. The umpire ruled not out, a review would have shown it was out. Leach was left on strike and faced a full over from Pat Cummins. Leach hit a single from the third ball, ensuring England would not lose the test. Stokes cut the next ball from Cummings through the covers for four, moving to 135 not out, securing victory and completing England’s highest ever run chase in Test cricket.
Old Trafford, Manchester is the venue for the all-important fourth test. Australia will win the Ashes with a victory. Bookies make England 7/5 favourites to win the Ashes, Australia 12/5 with the draw 7/4.
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