Australia vs England 3rd Test Day 4: Australia close in on regaining the Ashes

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Watson scored his fourth Test century

Australia closed in on regaining the Ashes for the first time in five years thanks to a magnificent century by all-rounder Shane Watson and some fantastic all-round bowling as well.

England’s batting duo of Ian Bell and Ben Stokes deserve credit as well as they both scored half-centuries to keep England alive heading into fifth and final day.

Starting out the day on 235/3, Australia all-rounder Watson and batsman Steven Smith managed to convert their 12-run partnership into a 78-run partnership, during which Watson brought up his half-century, before Smith was caught by substitute fielder Jonny Bairstow for 15 when attempting a pull shot off the bowling of Stokes.

Following Smith’s dismissal, Watson went absolutely berserk and smashed the England bowlers all over the ground.

Before anyone knew it, Watson had his bat raised in the air and was celebrating his fourth Test century.

However, just after surpassing his century, Watson was run out for 103 off 108 balls, which included 11 boundaries and an incredible five sixes.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was only able to score five runs before being caught by Graeme Swann at point off the bowling of Tim Bresnan.

George Bailey remained undefeated on 39 off 30 deliveries, which included three boundaries and three maximums, as captain Michael Clarke declared when Australia were on 369/6.

Bresnan and Stokes were the pick of the England bowlers with two wickets apiece, while Swann chipped in with one.

Set a target of 504 to win, England got off to the worst possible start as captain Alastair Cook was clean bowled by Ryan Harris off the very first ball of the innings.

Michael Carberry and Joe Root made up for the loss of Cook with a brilliant 62-run partnership before Carberry was given out lbw off the bowling of Watson.

Root only managed to score 19 runs before being caught behind off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson.

Kevin Pietersen played beautifully for his 45, but threw his wicket away when hitting a delivery from Nathan Lyon straight to Harris at long-on.

Following the dismissal of Pietersen, Bell and Stokes amassed an outstanding 99-run partnership, during which Bell brought up his half-century before he was caught behind off the bowling of Peter Siddle.

Initially, Bell was given not out, but Clarke decided to review it and Real Time Snicko showed that there had been a faint nick and the third umpire reversed the decision.

Bell’s excellent knock of 60 came off 93 balls and included seven boundaries and a six.

Stokes and Matt Prior were able to put together an unbeaten 31-run partnership, during which Stokes registered his maiden half-century, before stumps was called.

Stokes finished on 72 off 96 balls, which included 12 boundaries, while Prior remained undefeated on seven.

Harris, Johnson, Lyon, Watson and Siddle all picked up one wicket apiece.

England ended the day on 251/5 and will continue batting tomorrow at 10:30 local time or 02:30 GMT.

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