London: England put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat in the final Ashes Test at the The Oval on the third day. Joe Denly missed out his maiden Test ton by six runs but his effort, combined with those of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, helped the hosts extend their lead to 382.
England are looking to avoid a first series defeat at home to Australia since 2001.
The day started with openers Joe Denly and Rory Burns putting up a 54-run opening stand. Burns faced 48 balls and scored 20 runs before edging a short and wide delivery from Nathan Lyon to Tim Paine behind the wickets.
England captain Joe Root then gave Denly company for much of the morning session but was dismissed shortly before Lunch. However, for Australia, it was only the beginning of their troubles.
Denly and Ben Stokes then batted out the entire second session, piling on a 100-plus partnership and taking England well ahead in the Test.
They both scored fifties and took their stand to 127 before Stokes was dismissed by Nathan Lyon.
Jos Buttler came in with the situation poised perfectly for his strokes. He hit boundaries with Sam Curran and later Chris Woakes on the other side and came within three runs of a second half-century in the Test.
Curran became Pat Cummins’ first wicket of the innings when he nicked it behind to the wicketkeeper. Later, Chris Woakes fell to Mitchell Marsh thanks to a blinder of a catch from Steve Smith at second slip.
Woakes chased an outswinger and the ball took an edge before flying wide to Smith’s right. The 30-year-old leapt after it and plucked it mid-air.
Buttler fell off the very next ball which was bowled by Peter Siddle. He top edged a pull shot and Marnus Labushcagne had to cover significant ground before catching it behind square. Jofra Archer and Jack Leach were holding fort for England at the end of the day’s play.
Brief scores: England 294 & 313/8 (Joe Denly 94, Ben Stokes 67; Nathan Lyon 3/65), Australia 225 (Steve Smith 80, Marnus Labuschagne 48; Jofra Archer 6/62)