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England take first innings lead of 275 against Australia: AUS 113/4 at stumps in their second innings

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Mark Wood put on another exhibition of express pace bowling to dent Australia in the second half of the third day at Manchester Old Trafford. Having struck at the stroke of tea by removing Usman Khawaja, Wood came later on to deal bigger blows to the Aussies. Steve Smith was the major casualty as he misjudged a scrambled seam bouncer to glove it through to Jonny Bairstow down the leg-side. Soon after, Travis Head got a customary welcome of short balls and this time, he found them too hot to handle, eventually fending one to gully.

Amidst all this, Marnus Labuschagne held his own and batted with a fair degree of control on an increasingly two-paced surface with the odd ball playing tricks. It still appeared to be a decent deck to bat on but the sheer volume of scoreboard pressure and England’s relentless aggression meant that Australia weren’t quite able to cope with the challenge. David Warner threw away yet another start in the series as Chris Woakes nipped him for the second time in the game.

Mitchell Marsh along with Labuschagne ensured that Australia didn’t endure further damage but they have a mountain to climb with six sessions still left in the game and a deficit of 162 while only having six wickets left in the shed. Whether we’ll get much play on the next two days is anybody’s guess, though, as the forecast looks quite ominous but for now, England have their noses firmly in front and possibly one foot towards setting up a decider at The Oval.

Earlier in the day, Jonny Bairstow’s fireworks stole the show as far as the batting goes, even as Ben Stokes and Harry Brook got to fifties themselves. Bairstow’s innings stood out due to the sheer brutality of it, particularly in the second session when he went hammer and tongs. England chose not to declare and it was a fair option, as it meant that they didn’t want to bat again with the potential rain forecast.

Bairstow stitched together 66 runs for the last wicket with Anderson and was in sight of a Test ton but was left stranded on 99 as his partner was out LBW to Cameron Green. Australia put on a better bowling show today but the damage had been done already as England wrested control.

Brief scores: Australia 317 (Mitchell Marsh 51, Marnus Labuschagne 51; Chris Woakes 5-62) and 113/4 (Marnus Labuschagne 44*; Mark Wood 3-17) trail England 592 (Zak Crawley 189, Jonny Bairstow 99*, Joe Root 84; Josh Hazlewood 5-126) by 162 runs

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