England pull off Ashes miracle by chasing down 359 to beat Australia in third Test

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

England have pulled off a miracle to defeat Australia in the third Test of the Ashes thanks to Ben Stokes' incredible 135 innings.

England needed 359 runs to keep the Ashes alive but there was a quiet sense of optimism surrounding Headingley at the start of the fourth day.

The hosts started the day on 156-3 after Joe Denly’s resolute 50 on day three.

Joe Root continued on 75 runs and he was joined at the crease by Ben Stokes.

The message in the dressing room would have been clear: ease into the run chase, don’t take any risks early on and frustrate the Aussies.

So it was no surprise that it took England 26 balls to get their first runs of the day.

But they lost their first wicket with Root adding just two runs to his score.

The England captain skipped down the pitch, trying to find the gap at mid-wicket.

But he inside-edged it and Warner produced a sublime catch to remove England’s No.3.

“Joe Root would want his time again - that's all down to the pressure of so long without scoring a run,” former England captain Alastair Cook said on BBC Test Match Special.

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

England’s hopes suddenly looked dashed.

Enter Jonny Bairstow.

The Yorkshireman, playing with the bit between his teeth, took the attack to the Australian seamers to relieve the pressure.

He added 34 runs to the scoreboard and shared a 79-run partnership with Stokes heading into lunch.

England were 238-4 at the break, requiring a further 121 runs to win.

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

England fans were starting to sense the unthinkable but they didn’t get off to the best of starts after lunch.

Bairstow was caught at slip after foolishly going at Josh Hazlewood’s delivery.

He was caught at second slip by Marnus Labuschagne, his promising knock coming to a disappointing end.

England were 245-5 and Jos Buttler, who has struggled with the bat in this Ashes series, was next in - but he didn’t last long.

Buttler was run out by Travis Head for just one after a very optimistic attempt to pick up a run.

From optimism to deflation all in the space of 20 minutes.

CRICKET-ENG-AUS

England fans were suddenly reminding themselves that Buttler and Stokes put on 110 together in the World Cup final, searching for any glimmer of positivity.

Stokes got to 50 and the run chase dipped under 100.

The 28-year-old was England’s last shred of hope. Could he pull off a miracle?

He tried but he wasn’t being helped by his teammates. Woakes was out for one after he chipped it to Matthew Wade.

The score was 261-7 and Jofra Archer was in to bat.

If Archer was feeling the pressure, you couldn’t tell.

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

The 24-year-old appeared relaxed and even hit back-to-back fours.

But Archer got ahead of himself and he lost his wicket in cheap fashion, being caught on the boundary to leave England on 286-8.

Stuart Broad was out quickly afterwards for a duck and Jack Leach was in.

Stokes then took over to lead England to victory with one of the most remarkable performances ever.

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