The Ashes 2023: England hunt 251 to keep Ashes hopes alive

Ashes Men’s Third Test, Headingley (Day Three):
Australia 263 (Marsh 118; Wood 5-34) & 224 (Head 77; Broad 3-45, Woakes 3-68)
England 237 (Stokes 80, Cummins 6-91) & 27-0 (Ducket 18*)
England needs 224 runs to win
score card

England need a further 224 runs to win the third Test and keep their Ashes hopes alive after a thrilling rain-cut third day at Headingley.

The hosts ended up 27-0 and chasing 251 after knocking out Australia with 224.

England took advantage of perfect bowling conditions to convert Australia’s 116-4 to 170-8 after rain prevented any play until just before 5pm BST.

At this point Australia’s lead was 196 but Travis Head fought brilliantly and helped add another 54 for the final two wickets.

He fought Ben Stokes style, hitting seven fours and three sixes in his 77 before being caught at depth.

That put England a dangerous 25 minutes from the bat, but Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett hit four fours in five overs and gave England a platform.

England’s defeat sees Australia win an Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001.

Headingley prepares for another epic

A breathless two and a half hours of play set the stage for an epic finale that saw everything on the line for England.

Under Stokes and Brendon McCullum, they pursued goals four times bigger than this last year, while Stokes guided them to that very ground in 2019 in the 359 pursuit win over Australia.

However, nothing will be easy.

England’s bowlers – initially led by Chris Woakes and assisted by Mark Wood and Stuart Broad – seized the momentum but watched as Head’s pugnacity snatched it away as darkness gave way to brilliant evening sunshine.

Crawley started England’s chase by touching the fence in the middle of the wicket in the first half. The next moment, England’s hearts were racing as Duckett survived a return for a side catch and narrowly parried Mitchell Starc’s second slip.

An over later, Duckett was hit in the glove by Pat Cummins. He responded by punching the Australia captain through the ceiling before driving him to the ground for a four.

England’s openers left the pitch to a frenetic reception, with the hosts narrowly ahead.

Head gives England a Test goal

After the long wait, Woakes gave England an ideal start by defeating Mitchell Marsh in the third round of the day.

The first-inning centurion biffed two fours in the dark but added just 11 to his overnight tally before outpacing Woakes in an attempt to walk.

Woakes similarly defeated wicketkeeper Alex Carey five times, this time deflecting the ball onto stumps when the left-hander pulled his racquet back.

This exposed the tail and England turned to fast pitcher Wood.

First, Wood removed Starc, who blasted a bouncer so Harry Brook could run and make a smart catch, while Cummins added just one hit before offering a slim lead behind.

That brought on Ashes debutant Todd Murphy, but he impressively beat Wood for four first balls.

Despite the somber mood, England continued their short ball theory on Head and he attacked them with increasing determination – hitting Wood over the leg side rope in consecutive balls.

England struggled when he attacked but Broad, who also caught Murphy lbw for 11, caught him deep in the middle of the wicket to end the inning.

“England had a perfect day” – reaction

Former England captain Michael Vaughan in the friendly special: “England had a perfect day.

“I think England will do it, but it will be dramatic. We have a few hairy moments ahead of us.”

Former Australian bowler Glenn McGrath: “The scoreboard will not disturb England. You will play without fear. Australia have to be patient, there’s enough variable bounce on this pitch and they can’t look for wickets because they’ll be penalised.”

“There are a few more twists to this match.”

England bowler Chris Woakes: “I think we’re in a really good position. Of course, we still have 220 runs to go to win this Test game, but if we got that chance at the bottom of the first innings, we would.” Took it.

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