NEW DELHI: Off-spinner Moeen Ali‘s exceptional bowling display rekindled England’s
hopes during the third Test against Australia on Friday. Following England captain
‘s explosive knock of 80, the hosts displayed great resilience, ending the day with Australia at 116/4 in their second innings, leading by 142 runs.
After Australia had established a commanding position at 68/1, Moeen swiftly turned the tide by claiming two crucial wickets in just nine balls. He dismissed the formidable duo of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, both ranked among the top three Test batsmen in the world.
As it happened: 3rd Ashes Test, Day 2
Earlier in the match, England found themselves in dire straits at 142/7 during the first innings. However, all-rounder Stokes rose to the occasion once again with a magnificent knock of 80, propelling England to a respectable total of 237. This left Australia with a narrow first-innings lead of only 26 runs, courtesy of captain
‘s impressive figures of 6-91.
Stokes’s remarkable innings served as a reminiscent reminder of his Ashes heroics at Headingley four years prior, when he played an unforgettable unbeaten century that led England to a miraculous one-wicket victory.
In Australia’s second innings, fast bowler Stuart Broad struck early by dismissing David Warner, caught in the slips for just one run. Australia, however, looked to be grinding down England a bowler light with paceman Ollie Robinson off the field because of a back spasm, until the recalled Moeen’s stunning double strike.
Labuschagne, dropped on 33 when under-fire wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow couldn’t hold a tough diving chance, hadn’t added to his score when he carelessly swept Moeen to deep square leg.
Smith, in his 100th Test and just days after his fine hundred at Lord’s, was then out for a mere two when he whipped Moeen straight to midwicket as the bowler took his 200th Test wicket.
Usman Khawaja, who had troubled England throughout the series, put up a resilient 43 before being dismissed by Chris Woakes. Khawaja’s wicket further boosted England’s morale.
The day began with England resuming their innings at 68/3. However, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow fell early to the precise bowling of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, respectively. Despite the adversity, Mark Wood, who took a magnificent 5-34 in the previous day’s play, provided a late flourish, smashing a quickfire 24 to push England’s total higher.
Ben Stokes, entering the crease at a precarious 68/4, exhibited his attacking prowess with a flurry of boundaries. He received two reprieves while batting on 45, as Mitchell Starc dropped a catch in the deep, followed by Todd Murphy’s missed return catch.
Stokes reached his fifty in style, launching Murphy for two consecutive sixes. His aggressive innings, featuring six fours and five sixes, ended when he was caught, contributing 80 valuable runs to England’s cause.
With the match delicately poised, all eyes will be on the remaining days of this crucial Test as England aims to keep their Ashes hopes alive and Australia seeks to secure their first Ashes series victory on English soil since 2001.
(With inputs from AFP)