A grinding day of Test cricket on the third day at The Oval brought the possibility of a drawn game closer even as Australia tried hard to work through the English batting defences. We’ll have live scores and updates from 8.00pm AEST.
Australia knew they needed to bowl England out or at least get as close to doing that on the third day to keep their hopes of winning a Test this series alive.
England had a couple of options; one to play aggressively to try and remain in contention for a 4-0 scoreline in their favour or a second one to battle hard and long enough to save the game.
They went for the latter from the very outset on the third day and their 215/4 runs from 98.3 overs on the day meant it made for some unattractive cricket but effective as far as their strategy is concerned.
One other factor that would have gone in England playing the way they did on the third day is probably to do with the weakening of their batting, at least on paper, with the exclusion of Jonny Bairstow.
The fourth day will continue to be important for both teams but Australia know they need a couple of things going their way.
Firstly, they need the weather to remain decent. The issue with that is that the forecast for Saturday is for rains and play could be held up for a long time, in turn curtailing the number of overs to be bowled.
Secondly, Australia need wickets and quickly at that. The problem though is that the pitch has played rather slow and while batting hasn’t been the easiest, batsmen can bat long enough if they eschew risk.
That’s what they did all of third day and that’s exactly what they will try doing the entire fourth day.
Nathan Lyon could hold the key here, especially if it does not rain. He was getting them to turn and bounce and with some more luck, he will try and trigger an English collapse.
Not that the task will be too easy given the presence of Ian Bell at the other. Bell has three centuries to his name this series and while he’s only on 29 currently (off 110 balls), he will want to carry on long into the day.
The English lower-order has played its part in this series too, which implies itmight need Australia something really special to tighten the screws on England.
Follow the live score and blog of the fourth day’s play of the final Ashes Test from 8.00pm AEST. You can join me for this live blog and post your comments below.