England in pole position to take a 1-0 lead over Australia in the Ashes series

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At close of play on the third day of the first test between England and Australia, it is England who is on top.

At the start of the third day's play both sides would have fancied their chances of gaining the upper hand, but at the end of the day it was England who was in complete control of the match.

Good morning

In the morning session England bowled magnificently to take the five remaining Australian wickets for 44 runs, leaving Australia all out for 308, which gave England a very healthy 122 run lead on first innings.


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With the wicket starting to show signs of wear and tear, a 122 run lead put England in a very strong position providing they could bat well in the second innings and add at least 250 runs to the first innings lead.

To leave Australia chasing a target of 350 plus in the fourth innings would leave England as very strong favourites to take 1-0 lead in the series.

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Second innings

England's second innings did not start off too well, as they lost Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance very cheaply, and at 22-2 things did not look too rosy for the home team.

Adam Lyth and Ian Bell then decided to take the attack to the Aussies and added 51 runs for the third wicket, before Lyth fell for 37.

England's middle order of Bell, Joe Root and Ben Stokes then took charge of the situation with Bell and Root scoring half-centuries and Stokes 42, before a delightful cameo of an innings by England fast bowler Mark Wood, who scored 32 of just eighteen deliveries.

England was eventually bowled out for 289 in their second innings, which left Australia a daunting target of 412 to win the game.

Big challenge

It was a tremendous effort by Australia to bowl England out in just two and a half sessions, however due to their large deficit on first innings, they will have to chase down the third highest ever fourth innings score to win the test match.

Records are there to be broken however, and the Aussies will believe they can chase down the total. They have two days and a minimum of 180 overs to reach their target, but they cannot afford any loose shots as in the first innings.

England has to be favourites, especially as the pitch is not getting any easier to bat on and is offering plenty of assistance to the quick bowlers, especially the swing bowlers.

But as history shows Australia will not lie down and wave the white flag without a mighty battle.

Should Australia manage to record a famous victory then there is no doubt whatsoever that England's chances of regaining the Ashes will be almost zero.

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Ian Bell
Joe Root

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