England beat Australia in thriller to keep five-match Ashes series alive

Stokes has ‘no hesitation’ England can complete Ashes comeback

LEEDS: England beat Australia by three wickets in a nail-biting third Test at Headingley on Sunday to keep the five-match Ashes series alive. Harry Brook and Chris Woakes shared a crucial partnership of 59 that took England to the brink of victory before Brook fell for 75 to Mitchell Starc (5-78). The recalled duo of Woakes (32 not out) and Mark Wood (16 not out) then saw England home with more than a day to spare to cut Australia’s series lead to 2-1.

The series continues with the fourth Test at Old Trafford starting on July 19, with Australia now having two games in which to seal their first Ashes campaign triumph in England in 22 years. England are bidding to become just the second team to win a Test series from 2-0 down after the 1936/37 Australia side, inspired by batting great Don Bradman, that recovered from that deficit to win the Ashes 3-2. England captain Ben Stokes said he has no doubt his side can pull off a remarkable Ashes comeback after winning a dramatic third Test by three wickets on Sunday.

Chasing 251 to win at Headingley, England slumped to 171-6. Harry Brook’s 75 put the hosts back in command before Chris Woakes (32 not out) and Mark Wood (16 not out) got Stokes’ men over the line. Australia still lead the best-of-five series 2-1 and need just one more win to secure their first Ashes triumph in England for 22 years. “Yep. No hesitation,” said Stokes when asked if England can win the series. “Another down to the wire game. It’s nice to get over the line in this one and keep our hopes alive.” Stokes’ 155 was not enough as England fell just short in a run chase in the controversial second Test at Lord’s last week.

But he and the selectors could afford themselves a pat on the back as the three changes they made to the side paid dividends. Woakes and Wood starred with both bat and ball, while Moeen Ali took the key wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in Australia’s second innings. “It’s great when you make decisions like that and they have a big impact on the team,” added Stokes. “We want people to come in and impact the game in their moment to put us in a commanding position and all three guys did that.”

The fourth Test of the series gets under way at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 19. Brief scores Australia 1st Innings 263 (M Marsh 118; M Wood 5-34, C Woakes 3-73) England 1st Innings 237 (B Stokes 80; P Cummins 6-91) Australia 2nd Innings 224 (T Head 77; S Broad 3-45, C Woakes 3-68) England 2nd Innings 254-7 (H Brook 75; M Starc 5-78) Result: England won by three wickets Series: Australia lead five-match series 2-1. – AFP

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