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England vs Australia, 5th Test, Day 3: Joe Root Leads Run-Spree As England Press For Ashes-Levelling Win | Cricket News

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Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow combined for a sublime century partnership as England took a giant stride towards levelling the Ashes in the fifth Test at The Oval on Saturday. England, in a match they must win to square the series at 2-2, were 389-9 in their second innings at stumps on the third day — a commanding lead of 377 runs. Root (91) and Bairstow (78) were both in superb touch during a fifth-wicket stand of 110, with the only sadness for a capacity home crowd the fact that neither Yorkshireman was able to complete an individual hundred.

A late flurry of wickets, with Mitchell Starc taking 4-94 after a pounding by England’s top order, gave Australia a glimmer of hope.

But some of the biggest cheers of the day came when last man James Anderson got off the mark by reverse sweeping Todd Murphy for four and then next ball conventionally sweeping the off-spinner for another boundary.

Nevertheless, England’s current advantage means Australia already would have to achieve the joint ninth-highest total to win in the fourth innings of a Test if they are to pull off an improbable victory.

After Zak Crawley, who made a fine 73, and Harry Brook fell in quick succession, England were 222-4.

But Bairstow, one of the stars of the ‘Bazball’ era, maintained the aggressive run-rate with 34 off 35 balls as England reached tea on 265-4.

Bairstow went to fifty with a rasping cover-drive off Josh Hazlewood — his seventh boundary in 60 balls faced.

Root, 61 not out at tea, moved into the 90s with an elegant cover-driven four off Australia captain Pat Cummins.

There was no second century of the series for Root following his unbeaten 118 in the first Test at Edgbaston. He was bowled between bat and pad by a Murphy off-break that kept low.

Bairstow, fresh from his blistering 99 not out in last week’s rain-marred drawn fourth Test at Old Trafford, also fell short of three figures when his flat-footed cut at left-arm fast bowler Starc was caught behind.

Earlier, England needed only one over to erase their 12-run first-innings deficit at the start of play on Saturday.

Crawley, who had struck a cover-drive for four off the first ball of the series, repeated the shot off the first ball on Saturday before left-hander Ben Duckett ended the over with successive boundaries.

But an opening stand of 79 ended when Duckett, on 42, edged a full-length Starc delivery to wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

Crawley, the leading run-scorer in the series, took England to 130-1 at lunch.

England captain Ben Stokes, who had promoted himself up the order, with Moeen ruled out of batting in his number three position after being off the field all day Friday with a groin injury, ensured the runs kept coming

Stokes hooked Hazlewood for six in the first over after lunch, with Starc dropping a catch on the fine leg boundary.

Crawley added just two runs to his lunch score of 71 when he edged Australia captain Pat Cummins to Steve Smith at second slip, with England now 140-2.

Root charge

Root then demonstrated the range of his strokeplay by reverse-scooping Mitchell Marsh for a superbly timed six and next ball gliding the all-rounder down the legside for four.

The former England captain then drove Starc down the ground for four, with even his mishits going for boundaries — next ball an under-edged cut bounced over Carey’s head.

But there was nothing lucky about Root’s third four in as many balls off Starc, a deliberate uppercut.

Stokes, gave his wicket away on 42, caught at mid-on off a mistimed drive against Murphy.

Australia, as the holders, have already retained the Ashes at 2-1 up.

But they must avoid defeat at The Oval if they are to win their first Ashes series in England since 2001.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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