Head’s 77 gives Australia hope as England chase 251 to win
Travis Head erupted with a half-century to give Australia a chance and set England a target of 251 to win the third Ashes test on a rainy third day Saturday.
In five overs of its chase to stumps, England made a bright start in evening sunshine to be 27 without loss. Ben Duckett had 18 and Zac Crawley 9.
They reduced the target to 224 with two days to play and all 10 wickets in hand for an England side which must win to keep the series alive. Australia leads 2-0.
Rain at Headingley prevented play from starting for nearly five hours, well after tea, and England used conditions ripe for seam and swing to reduce Australia from 116-4 overnight to 170-8 in 14 overs.
Head was merely trying to survive while wickets fell around him. But with Australia eight down and leading by only 196 runs, and Todd Murphy walking out to bat in his fifth test, Head, on 34, decided to launch a fightback for as many runs as possible.
But, first, he had to wait while Murphy hit two boundaries off Englands fastest bowler, Mark Wood, with a cover drive and gloved one down the leg side.
Head smoked two boundaries off Chris Woakes in an over and England spread the field, with nobody in the ring against Australia’s last recognized batter.
Trying to protect Murphy, Head crashed two more boundaries in an over off Wood and reached his 22nd half-century.
He pulled Woakes for a six over midwicket, then Murphy was out leg before to Stuart Broad with 11 valuable runs in a stand of 41 for the ninth wicket.
Head slammed Wood for consecutive sixes — over deep square and fine leg — and rushed Australias lead to 250.
And that was it. He was out for 77 when he skied one off Stuart Broad.
Australia was all out for 224 after adding 108 runs in 20.1 overs. Head had 59 of them.
When Australia lost its eighth wicket, Head was on 34 from 82 balls. He added 43 off the next 30 balls.
Broad and Woakes took three wickets each and Wood got Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
Woakes, who added the wickets of Mitch Marsh and Alex Carey on Saturday, became the 16th bowler to take 100 test wickets in England, and the 15th Englishman. The only one with a better average than Woakes was Shane Warne, who averaged 21.9.
Report by: Saif R Siddiqui