Ashes 2019: Sensational Stokes, gritty Leach and near misses - how day four of the third Test unfolded

By Sports Desk August 25, 2019

Ben Stokes produced the innings of a lifetime to rescue England's Ashes dream on a remarkable day of Test cricket at Headingley on Sunday.

A dismal first-innings total of 67 left England's chances of regaining the urn seemingly in tatters and a daunting target of 359 meant the home side needed to record their biggest successful Test run chase to prevent Australia taking an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Joe Root and Joe Denly's sublime century stand a day before laid the foundation for an unreal day four, though, as Stokes – just a month on from his heroics in the Cricket World Cup final – once again came to his side's rescue.

An unbeaten 135 helped secure a truly memorable one-wicket victory, with Jack Leach playing an unlikely side-kick by safely seeing off 17 balls for the return of one run.

A raucous Leeds crowd saluted their hero and below we take a look at the key moments of one of the greatest days in Test history.


ROOT BLOW LEAVES ENGLAND WOUNDED

Many predicted England's hopes would hinge largely on the performance of captain Root, whose stand with Denly had given the hosts a fighting chance in the first place. But Root will have been kicking himself after an ill-advised charge on Nathan Lyon looped off his pad, over wicketkeeper Tim Paine and drew a stunning catch on the dive to his left from David Warner. Having added just two to his overnight score, England were at 159-4.

STOKES AND BAIRSTOW CHIP AWAY

That was the only damage done to England's scoreboard in the morning session as Stokes and Jonny Bairstow sought about chipping away at the target. It took Stokes 83 balls to reach double figures, while his partner scored slightly quicker. It was a crucial partnership for England.

BAIRSTOW DISMISSAL TRIGGERS COLLAPSE

Stokes and Bairstow led England to 238-4 by lunch, but things unravelled in the afternoon session. Bairstow's poor waft at Josh Hazlewood's delivery, which was moving away, was pouched gleefully by Marnus Labuschagne in the slips. A horror miscommunication between Stokes and Jos Buttler saw the latter run out for just one, and Chris Woakes (1) and Stuart Broad (0) went cheaply either side of an entertaining 15 from Jofra Archer. Enter Jack Leach.

STOKES SWINGS FOR THE FENCES

At 286-9, Stokes decided the time was right to start swinging the bat and boy did he do so. Lyon was given the treatment – including a remarkable reverse sweep over the ropes – while Hazlewood was whacked for six off back-to-back balls. Stokes' brilliance had dramatically brought England back into the match, but there were a few more nervy moments along the way…

WICKET REPRIEVES

Every great story needs some peaks and troughs, and so it was for England. Had Marcus Harris clung onto an undercooked Stokes slog at third man, or Lyon not missed a simple-looking run-out with Leach well out of his crease, then the course of history would have been markedly different. There was more bad news for Lyon when video technology showed he had Stokes pinned lbw not long after, but the decision was not given on the field and Australia had already burned their reviews. It was a huge moment for England.

STOKES SEALS IT IN STYLE

That failed appeal still left Leach on strike and England needing two to win and one to draw. The number 11's gutsy resistance returned a single run with a jab past short leg off Pat Cummins, which brought Stokes back to the fore. Headingley waited with bated breath and Stokes smacked one through the covers before throwing his arms wide and roaring in sheer jubilation at the miracle he had just orchestrated.

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