Half-centuries for Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen pushed England within 245 runs of Australia’s first-innings total on day three of the final Ashes cricket Test at the Oval in London.
England will resume tomorrow on 247-4, scored off 116 overs. Ian Bell, the scorer of three centuries this series, is unbeaten on 29, and newcomer Chris Woakes is 15 not out.
While Australia seeks its first Test victory of the series, a draw is the most likely result according to bookmakers on oddschecker.com. The weather could increase that likelihood with a forecast of rain threatening to interrupt tomorrow’s play.
“Australia bowled pretty well,” Root told Sky Sports. “It’s quite slow and hard to time out there. We’re going to have to dig deep tomorrow.”
Root and captain Alastair Cook, England’s opening pair, resumed on 32-0 on a sunny morning. The two advanced cautiously before Cook edged a wide Ryan Harris delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for 25. The partnership of 68 was the duo’s highest of the five-match series.
Root and Jonathan Trott added another 50 before Root top-edged a sweep after the lunch break and was caught off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon for 68.
The incoming Pietersen struggled to score freely, but he and Trott took the score to 176 before Trott was caught leg-before-wicket for 40 by fast-bowler Mitchell Starc with the first delivery of the second new ball. England scored just 84 runs off 38 overs in the afternoon session.
Starc claimed another victim soon after tea, tempting Pietersen into nicking a wide delivery to Shane Watson at slip. Pietersen’s score of 50 was his slowest-ever half-century in an Ashes Tests, coming off 127 balls.
Woakes joined Bell at the crease and drove his first-ever ball in Test cricket through the covers for four -- a rare highlight on a dull day.
England has already won the Ashes urn, cricket’s oldest trophy, holding an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.