Tale of two captains is a series that hangs by a thread

Ben Stokes played an incredible innings of 80 runs

Another fast-paced Ashes day saw Australia maintain their slim lead in the third Test at Headingley. Despite not playing at their most proficient level in Leeds against a struggling England team, they still have a chance to win the trophy this weekend.

The two captains’ skills were on display on this particular day. While Ben Stokes played his second superhuman innings in six days, Pat Cummins, who had already taken two wickets on the opening evening, added four more to conclude with his first five-wicket haul on English soil, finishing with 6 for 91.

In the Headingley Test, Ben Stokes’ courageous effort helped England keep the deficit in the first innings to 26. This was the highlight of another absorbing session. After England’s terrible performance in the morning session, Stokes was the only player still fighting for his team. 

He rallied with the tail, despite being less than 100%, to contribute some crucial runs before Australia increased their lead to 55 by the interval.

Mark Wood smashed the first ball for a six to give the session a sensational start. After England’s lackluster performance in the morning, Mitchell Starc kept it brief again, and the following two deliveries were sent for four and six runs, respectively, as well as the Headingley crowd finally erupted. 

Before Pat Cummins put an end to that little period of fun, Wood then scored his third six with a top edge. Wood’s 8-ball 24, though, significantly cut the gap, giving England some hope.

Following that dismissal, Stokes and Stuart Broad worked together once more to block Australia. With three consecutive boundaries to end an over from Starc, Stokes followed it up with another over from Cummins. 

As the runs began to pour in, Broad, for his part, retreated and hit one over extra cover. In a move that delighted the fans, Australia made things worse for themselves by dropping Stokes twice off consecutive deliveries.

The next short ball Cummins threw at Broad was mistimed, and Broad was caught by Steve Smith close to the boundary for his sixth wicket. The pressure was on Stokes once more to pull off something he is used to by this point as an injured Ollie Robinson made his way out to the middle. 

Stokes smashed back-to-back sixes off Todd Murphy twice while past fifty, despite the fact that he was having trouble himself due to a lower back problem.

These significant blows turned out to be crucial, as the deficit was reduced to under 40 points in a short period of time, shocking the visitors. 

Smith’s sixth catch in his 100th Test came when Stokes was finally caught at the boundary after successfully removing the ropes from Murphy five times. It essentially turned into a second-inning shootout once more, like it did in the first Test, with Australia only having a 26-run advantage.

When his arch-enemy Stuart Broad sent David Warner back to the pavilion early (for the 17th time), the English audience had even more cause to celebrate. When Warner edged Broad behind to be caught at slip, the dismissal resembled the one from the first innings quite a little. 

The two players, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja, then survived a challenging little stretch prior to the Tea break. From an England standpoint, the final session is about to start.
Brief scores: Australia 263 & 29/1 (Usman Khawaja 20*; Stuart Broad 1/9) lead England 237 (Ben Stokes 80; Pat Cummins 6/91) by 55 runs