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Jonny Bairstow stars as England boost hopes of fourth Test win

Bairstow stars as England boost hopes of fourth Test win
© Reuters
Jonny Bairstow hits a superb unbeaten knock of 99 to give England a chance of winning the fourth Test, their current lead over Australia standing at 162 runs.

A rapid 99 from Jonny Bairstow has helped England put themselves in position to beat Australia in the fourth Ashes Test, with the Baggy Greens reaching stumps on day three at 113-4 in their second innings.

Bairstow hit 10 fours and four maximums in a knock consisting of just 81 deliveries as England reached 592 all out, before Australia were restricted to 113-4 and a deficit of 162.

With the prospect of minimal play over the weekend, some will argue that England batted for too long on Friday, but the contrasting argument will be that bowling Australia out for less than 275 will provide them with a famous series-levelling triumph at Old Trafford.

When England resumed on 384-4, the expectation was that they would bat no further than lunch due to the anticipation of a washout on Saturday and rain on the final day.

However, despite batting with intent, Ben Stokes opted to keep England in the middle until just before 3pm, with the skipper and Harry Brook initially adding a further 53 runs before Stokes was out for 51.

Brook (61) advanced the score to 474-6, but Bairstow had taken over responsibility for helping England progress past 500 with an aggressive approach to batting with the tail.

Rather than declare on 526-9, when Stuart Broad was dismissed for Josh Hazlewood's fifth wicket, Bairstow and Jimmy Anderson put on 66 in 8.1 overs for the last wicket, with Anderson being trapped LBW for five off the bowling of Cameron Green and leaving Bairstow stranded agonisingly short of a majestic ton.

Nevertheless, England had a lead of 275 and although the opening 10 overs passed by without incident, the extra pace of Mark Wood saw Usman Khawaja nick the ball behind for 18.

David Warner made 28 from 53 balls before getting out to Chris Woakes, before Wood steamrollered in after tea to take the wickets of Steven Smith (17) and Travis Head (1).

Marnus Labuschagne (44*) and Mitchell Marsh (1*) saw out the remaining 4.5 overs of the day, and both teams may be left to dwell on this position in the game until Sunday with rain in line to rule out any play on day four.

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