Joe Denly’s gritty 94 helped England post a big lead of 382 against Australia at the end of third day’s play in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval on Saturday. The opener fell six short of what would have been his maiden Ashes century.
Ben Stokes, too, shone with the bat for his 67 as he and Denly together scripted a partnership 127 runs for the fourth wicket. It was classic Stokes on display as he went on to partner Denly with utmost perfection. The duo drove the potent Australian attack crazy as they batted for almost 40 overs.
However, Nathan Lyon (3/65) struck for the visiting side to give the team some respite after Stokes missed a tossed-up delivery to see his stumps rattled. Denly, too, could not continue further as he edged Peter Siddle to Australian skipper Tim Paine behind the stumps. Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler looked settled and tried to steady the ship for the hosts.
But Bairstow’s stay was not meant for great extent as he failingly tried to defend a length delivery from first innings’ hero Mitchell Marsh (2/40). The cherry took a clear edge and landed on the safe hands of Steve Smith who took a good low catch to dismiss the wicketkeeper batsmen for 14. Buttler, however, continued steadily as he tried to build another partnership with the following batsman Sam Curran.
Curran showed intent but failed to support Buttler for long before Pat Cummins took his edge for Paine to glove anther one. Buttler, too, fell soon after and missed another half-century by a whisker as he got dismissed at 47. It was old fox Peter Siddle (2/52) again with a shorter one this time to lure the batsmen for a pull-shot. The trick worked as Buttler mistimed the ball for Marcus Labuschagne to run in from deep square to leg to take a blinder.
At the stumps, Jofra Archer and third Test’s hero Jack Leach held England’s fort. While Archer has managed three in his six ball-stay, Leach has shown confidence in his stay of 17 balls where he has managed five so far.