Cricket 2 years ago

The Ashes: Australia mauled as England seize control on Day 3

  • The Ashes: Australia mauled as England seize control on Day 3

Only a commodious villa at the Caesar's Palace (the name here is meaningless) perhaps betters the comfort levels  touched when Joe Root bats and as Rafael Benitez - when in the mood - would say, that's a fact. He is Guzzling runs at the moment while being able to chuckle when his captain takes a blow on you-know-what, which is fairly commendable, but treacherous too (because he chuckled when Captain Cook was seemingly down and out). 

Day three served up to be another example of just how long a path has Joe Root travelled since he last faced an Australian attack, which we all know did only aim for the cheeky Yorkshireman's head. He just can't stop making an impact and that wistful yearning to influence games is what makes him the superstar he is. 

Not long before England's tutelary (Root) came out to bat, the England attack had been running a riot with the kind of discipline only Glenn McGrath used to shame. Beginning the day with Shane Watson's 67599th LBW dismissal, Stuart Broad set up the day nicely, before Ben Stokes and Mark Wood chipped in with the wickets of Mitchell Johnson and  Nathan Lyon respectively, the inning being eventually brought to an end courtesy of some veristic swing bowling from, well, the king himself - James Anderson.

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Joe Root time (watch out for Ian Bell bursting onto the scene) then started to loom over as England came out to bat, with a lead of 122 runs. Alastair Cook was the first to go - trying to be what he isn't - just as he did in the first innings. Full marks to the England Captain for his aggressive approach, but Cook must realise that the aggression doesn't necessarily have to reflect on your batting mannerisms, not at all when you are known for patience and digging in to gradually destroy bowlers. 

At 17-1, the game was finely poised, but when it became 2/22 as Ballance was undone by Hazlewood, the butterflies were out there in numbers right where Cook was. Bell's turn to burst onto the scene was now. He had been treading on thin ice since a long time, and here was he, out to save his England career (presumably). Fast forward a few minutes, the Warwickshire lad looked in pristine touch, drives being caressed with sheer ease, and Australia being made to suffer. 

Adam Lyth enjoyed his time with the bat too, counter-punching Pup's attack, in an inning that didn't last long but set the platform for Joe Root who now arrived at the crease to steer his team through a tough period alongside a man who had done it several times himself. Together, Ian Bell and Joe Root batted, putting on display some tremendous strokeplay. 

By the time Ian Bell was finally cleaned up by Mitchell Johnson - who bowled to the left and right and his bowling wasn't quite alright - the hosts had some breathing space. Some quick wickets then followed thanks largely to some feckless batting, and the game was in balance again at 245/8 considering Australia's capabilities. Suddenly, surprisingly, Mark Wood rose to the occasion, only to become a part of the Ashes folklore by stumps, as he hit an exuberant 32* of just 18 deliveries riding on a wave of confidence to guide his team past 400, and the England innings finally ending at 289, Australia needing 412 to win. 

Three words for Pup and Company, "application, temperament and patience". 

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