A Test-best 94 from Joe Denly and 67 from Ben Stokes led England to a 382-run lead at the end of the third day of the final Ashes Test at The Oval.
The day began in much the same fashion as the previous day had ended, with England openers Burns and Denly battling against hostile spells from Cummins and Hazlewood. Denly, in particular, watched the ball nip past his outside edge a number of times, but both batsmen survived to see the introduction of Nathan Lyon.
For Denly this offered a chance to cut loose, taking a four and a six from consecutive deliveries of the off-spinners first over with a pair of checked drives down the ground. The pair managed to bring up the first fifty opening partnership of the series before Lyon got the breakthrough, Burns under-edging a cut shot through to Paine. Having dismissed the left-hander, Lyon was replaced after only three overs, the Australian captain wary after Denly’s assault.
The Australian seamers continued to pose questions for the batsmen, a Cummins in-nipper causing a brief delay as Denly waited for a box to be brought out to replace his damaged one. However, it was the spinner again who ended a promising partnership, having been reintroduced from the other end. Root played for spin which did not manifest, and Steve Smith gobbled up the resulting edge at slip.
Lyon could have had a third soon after lunch, the prized wicket of Stokes, but Smith was unable to cling on to a sharp chance, albeit one which came straight at him. Denly brought up his fifty in the following over, clipping a rare loose ball from Hazlewood to deep square-leg for four.
Back-to-back amazing catches from Australia!— ICC (@ICC) September 14, 2019
Steve Smith takes the first one at second slip diving to his right to remove Woakes.
Marnus Labuschagne then takes a diving catch running forward from deep square-leg.
Scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/Op8d6I1Gph pic.twitter.com/R2eqTXyidb
Half chances kept coming for Australia as the batsmen never quite seemed on top, but despite that runs flowed freely for Stokes in particular who brought up fifty with his second six. Stokes finally perished, bowled for 67 by a beauty from Lyon turning past the outside edge into off stump, and Denly fell agonisingly short of a maiden Test hundred, caught at slip for a career-best 94 as he tried to turn Siddle into the leg-side.
Bairstow and Woakes both fell to excellent catches by Smith at slip, the latter an especially impressive full-length diving effort, and Curran feathered one down the leg-side to Tim Paine. Alongside them, Jos Buttler made a free-flowing 47 before he was caught brilliantly by Labuschagne in the deep, the ball after Woakes's dismissal, to leave England eight down with the lead still south of 400. Archer and Leach batted out the four remaining overs without incident to leave England 313/8 and looking in a strong position to level the series.
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