By Peter Hall
LEEDS, England (Reuters) – An unbeaten partnership of 79 by Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow gave England hope of earning an extraordinary victory to save the Ashes series against Australia on Sunday.
The hosts reached 238-4 at lunch in their second innings on day four of the third test at Headingley, just 120 runs behind.
Coming into the day on 156-3 and needing another 203 runs to win the match and prevent Australia — who lead the five-test series 1-0 — from retaining the Ashes, England lost captain Joe Root, out for 77 chasing an aggressive shot, in the sixth over of the day.
Nathan Lyon picked the perfect moment to move to third in the list of Australian leading test-wicket takers, as England appeared to be on course for defeat, but Bairstow (34 not out) and Stokes (32 not out) steadied the ship.
The experienced pair accelerated the run rate with their vital unbeaten stand seeing England through to lunch and raising hopes of a second-highest-ever successful fourth-innings run chase at Headingley.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Clare Fallon)