Though Rain wiped out the first two sessions on Day Three of the ongoing third Ashes Test at Headingley, it didn’t stop the action from moving at a frenetic pace in the one session of play possible on Saturday.
In the end, England reached 27/0 at stumps in a chase of 251 after their bowlers made good use of the overcast conditions to bowl out Australia for 224. Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley remained unbeaten on 18 and 9 respectively for England to leave the required runs to 224.
Resuming from 116/4 and with their lead at 142 runs, the total could have been a lot less for Australia if Travis Head hadn’t struck a magnificent 77 in conditions that were very tricky for batting.
Chris Woakes (3-68) dismissed first-innings centurion Mitchell Marsh (nicked behind) and Alex Carey (chopped onto his stumps) in quick succession, while Mark Wood (3-66) took out Mitchell Starc and captain Pat Cummins to reduce Australia to 170/8.
Australia’s lead was standing at 196 at that point, but Head and Todd Murphy (11) put on a crucial stand of 41 runs for the ninth wicket before Murphy was pinned lbw by Broad (3-45). Broad eventually ended Australia’s resistance by having Head caught at deep midwicket, shortly after the left-handed batter smacked Wood for back-to-back sixes.
Head’s heavy hitting while batting with the tail at the end ensured Australia crossed 200, a score that seemed difficult to reach when they were eight down.
A win for England will keep the Ashes alive while a victory for Australia will give them their first Ashes series triumph in the country in 22 years.
Australia 263 & 224 all out in 67.1 overs (Travis Head 77, Usman Khawaja 43; Stuart Broad 3-45, Chris Woakes 3-68) lead England 237 & 27 for no loss in 5 overs (Ben Duckett 18 not out, Zak Crawley 9 not out) by 224 runs