Australia in command of second Ashes Test against England on Day 3

The third day of the second Ashes Test ended with Australia firmly in control and on the verge of reclaiming the coveted trophy. England’s batting lineup crumbled during the morning session, succumbing to reckless shots and conceding a significant 91-run lead. However, Usman Khawaja led a resilient effort from Australia’s top order to put them back in control.

Drizzle forced play to be called off 27 overs early, but not before Australia secured a massive lead of 221 runs.

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At the start of the day, England resumed their innings at 278 for 4 following an eventful final session on the previous day, which included three wickets lost to hook shots and an injury to Nathan Lyon, likely ruling him out for the remainder of the series due to a significant calf strain.

However, England missed a crucial opportunity to stretch Australia’s bowling resources as they lost their last six wickets for only 47 runs. Their collapse from a solid position of 188 for 1 to a final total of 325 was epitomised by Harry Brook’s dismissal with a careless shot into the off-side, illustrating a batting approach that may have gone too far, even for this team.

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In response, Australia’s opening pair of Khawaja and David Warner once again battled through favourable bowling conditions, putting together a respectable partnership of 63 runs. This marked the first time since 2018 that Australia had managed two half-century partnerships for the first wicket, with Khawaja playing a role in both instances alongside Aaron Finch in Dubai.

England’s day started poorly and failed to improve. The momentum from the previous evening, tempered somewhat by Ben Stokes, was halted abruptly when the captain fell to the second ball of the day. Stokes was caught by Cameron Green off Mitchell Starc’s delivery, providing Australia with another sharp chance.

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Brook, who was dropped on 25, reached his half-century from 63 balls before falling to a short ball, as he tried to play it towards the leg side.

Starc, chosen over Scott Boland after missing out in the previous match at Edgbaston, impressed with figures of 2 for 13. Having already claimed Joe Root’s wicket, Starc once again showcased his value as a wicket-taker.

Jonny Bairstow played cautiously but eventually fell to Josh Hazlewood, edging a delivery to mid-on. England struggled to generate much from the bowlers, and Ollie Robinson fell victim to Travis Head’s spin bowling. Stuart Broad was dismissed lbw while attempting a sweep shot.

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Although England’s bowlers posed challenges with the new ball, Warner and Khawaja survived numerous close calls, particularly Warner. England’s missed opportunities were evident when they reviewed an lbw decision against Warner, only for replays to reveal a thin inside edge off James Anderson’s bowling. Khawaja was also given a reprieve when he pulled a shot to Anderson at midwicket, but the chance slipped through his hands. Dropped catches continued to haunt England.

Josh Tongue, who had made an impact earlier in the match, finally broke through by trapping Warner lbw from round the wicket, adding to his encouraging return to the team. Tongue thought he had also dismissed Marnus Labuschagne on three, but the decision was overturned by the DRS as the ball had struck Labuschagne outside the line of the stumps.

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After tea, Stuart Broad bowled a tight spell, troubling Labuschagne. Stokes chose not to review the umpire’s decision for caught behind and lbw. However, Stokes made a misjudgment after the break when Labuschagne would have been given out lbw on 16 if he had reviewed a delivery from Broad.

Labuschagne, who has struggled this series, eventually played a loose shot, slashing at a wide delivery from James Anderson to backward point.

Meanwhile, Khawaja scored yet another half-century, showcasing his batting prowess and stamping his authority as one of the top batters between the two teams throughout the series. Australia have tightened their grip on the game to potentially secure a win and reclaim the Ashes Test series.

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