After two days of clueless cricket, England hit back in style on Day 3 of the Ashes 2021-22 series opener at The Gabba, Brisbane. At the close of play on Friday, the visitors were 220/2 in 70 overs and have reduced Australia's lead to 58 runs only. With skipper Joe Root (86 off 158) and Dawid Malan (80 off 177) stitching an unbeaten stand of 159 runs off 294 balls for the third wicket, England finally breathed easy.
But the job is only half done. And in the next two days, anything can happen. England were bowled out for 147 on the rain-affected opening day. On Day 2, Australian batters made merry with David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne scoring 94 and 74 runs respectively before Travis Head hit a tone. Head then reached his 150 on Day 3 and with Mitchell Starc, who scored 35 off 64, almost killed off the contest. England fought back and dismissed Australia for 425 in 104.3 overs to give themselves a chance to redemption. Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood took three wickets apiece, while Chris Woakes got a brace. England's second innings got off to usual fashion, losing both the openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed early, back in the hut inside 21 overs. But Malan and Root dropped the anchor. Catch Day 3 highlights and cricket scores of AUS vs ENG, Ashes first Test:
1:01 PM IST: Stumps
Cameron Green with the last over of the day. And almost the wicket of Joe Root. Misses the outside edge. Heart in mouth moment for England. A maiden. 30 runs in the last ten overs. England trail by 58 runs. Dawid Malan (80 off 177) and Joe Root (86 off 158) in an unbeaten 159-run stand off 294 balls. ENG - 220/2 (70)
12:39 PM IST: Root Getting Fixed
Joe Root is getting medical attention. England physio in the middle, helping the skipper stretch and mending the hands.
12:36 PM IST: Malan-Root Stand Grows
Ten overs remaining in the day's play. Dawid Malan (72 off 159) and Joe Root (82 off 146) still going strong. They are in an unbeaten 147-run stand off 264 balls. England trail by 70 runs. ENG - 208/2 (65)
12:11 PM IST: Lyon Wicketless
Joe Root hits Nathan Lyon for a four, to fine leg after, to end the 60th over. Lyon still wicketless after 21 overs. England skipper on 70 off 125. Dawid Malan on 67 off 157. England trail by 88 runs. ENG - 190/2 (60)
11:48 AM IST: Drinks
Australia's lead now under 100. Dawid Malan and Joe Root have faced 204 balls together to revive England's hopes. Their third-wicket stand now worth 118. They trail by 99 runs. ENG - 179/2 (55)
11:32 AM IST: 100-run Stand
Joe Root takes a single off the second ball of Marnus Labuschagne's second over to bring up a 100-run stand with Dawid Malan, in 182 balls. England trail by 117 runs. ENG - 161/2 (51.2)
11:24 AM IST: Malan Fifty
Eighth Test fifty for Dawid Malan, in 121 balls. His stand with Joe Root (53 off 88) is now worth 92 in 168. 38 runs in the last ten overs. England trail by 125 runs. ENG - 153/2 (49)
11:09 AM IST: Root Fifty
Joe Root pulls Nathan Lyon for a four to bring his fifty, in 80 balls. Eight fours so far. England trail by 132 runs. ENG - 146/2 (45.4)
10:56 AM IST: Another Intruder
As Mitchell Starc gets ready for his second delivery in the 43rd over, a fan evades the security cordon to the amusement of the crowd. Joe Root to face the ball. England trail by 151 runs. ENG - 127/2 (42.2)
10:41 AM IST: 50-run Stand
Joe Root hits Mitchell Starc for four, a craking drive, to bring up a 50-run stand with Dawid Malan in 106 balls. Six from Starc's 8th over. England trail by 163 runs. ENG - 115/2 (39)
10:28 AM IST: Post-tea Session Starts
Players are back for the final session. Mitchell Starc resumes the proceedings. Joe Root takes the strike.
10:10 AM IST: Tea
Nathan Lyon with the final over before Tea. A maiden to Dawid Malan. Finally, a good session for England. 84 runs for 2 wickets in 28 overs. Dawid Malan and Joe Root are unbeaten on 35 and 26 runs respectively. England trail by 171 runs. 107/2 (36)
10:06 AM IST: 100 Up
Pat Cummins continues. From from his tenth over. His figures: 1/29. Dawid Malan (35 off 86) and Joe Root (26 in 39) in a little 46-run stand for the third wicket. England trail by 171 runs. ENG - 107/2 (35)
9:50 AM IST: Root Four
Pat Cummins returns for his 8th over. Joe Root gets a streaky four off the third ball, edged. England trail by 196 runs. ENG - 82/2 (31)
9:26 AM IST: Focus On Root
Two singles, one each in two overs, since drinks. Joe Root opened his account in seven balls, with a single in the 24th over. England trail by 211 runs. ENG - 67/2 (25)
9:14 AM IST: Drinks
Dawid Malan is riding his luck. He first survives a caught behind appeal off the fifth ball, then a thick misses everyone at the crowded cordon. Josh Hazlewood is probing him. England trail by 213 runs. ENG - 65/2 (23)
9:01 AM IST: Two Down
Mitchell Starc breaks the 38-run second-wicket stand. A fine nick and Haseeb Hameed (27 off 58) is caught behind. Joe Root is the new man. England trail by 217 runs. ENG - 61/2 (21)
8:52 AM IST: 50 Up
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon operating in tandem. Starc concedes 8, including a four, hit by Haseeb Hameed. England trail by 225 runs. ENG - 53/1 (19)
8:29 AM IST: Trail By 251
Pat Cummins continues. A couple from his fourth over. England trail by 251 runs. ENG - 27/1 (13)
8:13 AM IST: Cummins Strikes
And the Aussie skipper strikes in the first over after lunch. Rory Burns (13 off 27) caught behind. Stiff bounce doing the damage. Dawid Malan will join Haseeb Hameed in the middle. England trail by 255 runs. ENG - 23/1 (9)
8:08 AM IST: Post-lunch Play Begins
Pat Cummins resumes post-lunch proceedings. Rory Burns takes the strike.
7:31 AM IST: Lunch
Josh Hazlewood with the final over before the lunch. And England survive eight overs. They trail Australia by 255 runs in the second innings. Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns are unbeaten on 10 and 13 runs respectively. ENG - 23/0 (8)
7:19 AM IST: England Optimistic
Josh Hazlewood with his third over. Strays and Rory Burns flicks the fifth ball for a four. In the previous over, Haseeb Hameed hits Mitchell Starc for a four. England trail by 260 runs. ENG - 18/0 (6)
:06 AM IST: Burns Four
Rory Burns pulls Mitchell Starc for the first boundary of the innings. Six from the over. In the previous over, Josh Hazlewood, conceded a single. Meanwhile, David Warner is off the field. England trail by 269 runs. ENG - 9/0 (3)
6:57 AM IST: Burns Survives
And it takes six balls. Rory Burns is trapped in front. LBW, given. England take the review. And he survives. Just going over the top of the middle. No pairs as yet for Burns.
6:51 AM IST: Aussie Eye Innings Win
Mitchell Starc with the new ball. Haseeb Hameed takes the strike. His opening partner is Rory Burns. England need 279 runs to make Australia bat again. Or 278 to avoid an innings defeat.
6:43 AM IST: Innings Break
Mark Wood bowls straight and hits the stumps. Travis Head, going for quick runs, is cleaned up. But he returns a victor, having scored his maiden Ashes ton and third in his fledgling Test career. He scored 154 off 148, with 14 fours and four sixes. With that Aussie innings is done. They lead England by 278 runs. AUS - 427 (104.3); ENG - 147.
6:35 AM IST: 150 For Head
150 for Travis Head with a four in 1443 balls. He pulls the first ball of Jack Leach's 13th over to deep midwicket fence. And Leach breaches the 100-run mark. Going for runs.
6:31 AM IST: Lyon Goes
Mark Wood gets his second. Nathan Lyon (15 off 25), holes out at square leg. Easy catch for Ollie Robinson. Lyon added 29 runs in 39 balls for the tenth wicket with Travis Head. Josh Hazlewood is the new man. Australia lead by 273 runs.AUS - 420/9 (102.3)
6:18 AM IST: Drinks
Travis Heads the last ball for a six, over fine leg and has a cordial chat with the bowler, Mark Wood as they head for drinks. Head unbeaten on 145 off 138, with 13 fours and four sixes. Australia lead by 266 runs. AUS - 413/8 (101)
6:13 AM IST: Lead By 256 Runs
Chris Woakes with the 100th over of the innings, his 25th. Three from the over. His figures: 2/76. 39 runs in the last ten. Australia lead by 256 runs. Travis Head and Nathan Lyon on 138 and 7 runs respectively. AUS - 403/8 (100)
5:54 AM IST: Second For Woakes
Chris Woakes breaks the 85-run stand, eighth-wicket stand by removing Mitchell Starc (35 off 64). Caught by Rory Burns at deep square. Nathan Lyon joins Travis Head (134) in the middle. AUS - 391/8 (95.6)
5:43 AM IST: Starc Drive
Mitchell Starc hits Ollie Robinson for a four, a crunchy on drive off the fifth ball. He is on 31 off 57. Australia now lead by 232 runs. AUS - 379/7 (94)
5:29 AM IST: Weary English Bowlers
Mark Wood with his second over of the day. A couple off the second ball as Mitchell Starc plays it to long leg. Unlike other English bowlers, Wood is cracking up pace. Australia lead by 219 runs. AUS - 366/7 (91)
5:17 AM IST: Lead Grows
Ollie Robinson bowling in tandem with Chris Woakes. A single from his 20th over. Australia have added 45 runs in the last ten overs. Lead is now 212 runs and the eight-wicket stand between Travis Head and Mitchell Starc is 53 in 74. AUS - 359/7 (88)
5:06 AM IST: Fresh Start For Head
Two singles from Ollie Robinson's 19th over. Australia lead by 202 runs. This is a fresh start for Travis Head (114), and his stand with Mitchell Starc is now worth 43 in 62. AUS - 349/7 (86)
5:00 AM IST: First Over
Chris Woakes resumes the proceedings. Travis Head takes the strike. He's with Mitchell Starc.
England spent a long day at the Gabba on Thursday. David Warner rode his luck, Ben Stokes over-stepped the line but it were the Australians who laughed all the way to a commanding lead by stumps on Day 2.
The absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad was felt and with injury concerns for Ollie Robinson and Stokes, England look seriously handicapped. Australia will not be bothered as they will want to add to their lead and then unleash their pacers on England, who were packed off for a paltry 147 on the first day of the match.
England bowlers will have to step up and Stokes, who is playing a Test match after March, will have to ensure that he justifies the faith that Joe Root has on him. There is a lot of pressure on Jack Leach. The left-arm spinner (1 for 95 in 11 overs), who was preferred over Broad, has been hammered by the Australians.
Travis Head, who scored the fastest century at Gabba off 85 balls, will look to build one more partnership with Mitchell Starc. Head and captain Pat Cummins combined in a 70-run stand that restored Australia’s dominance and accelerated the scoring as England’s fielding got ragged.