James Anderson took 2 important wickets    Getty Images
James Anderson took 2 important wickets Getty Images

England’s batting miseries continued. From Alastair Cook to Jonny Bairstow, no Englishman could play a long and boring innings to exhaust the Australians. With the ball assisting seamers under lights, England ended up conceding a four-wicket haul to Nathan Lyon, his 10th in Tests. Lyon achieved a milestone in the process, becoming the highest wicket-taker in Tests in 2017. Ravichandran Ashwin, an hour later during the third Test between India and Sri Lanka, levelled Lyon’s tally of 55 wickets.

Australia took a lead of 268 runs at stumps on Day Three despite losing 4 wickets. James Anderson could have had Steven Smith for a duck, but the ball had pitched slightly outside the leg stump. Joe Root gave Anderson a hug after the third umpire overturned Aleem Dar’s decision; or he needed one.

The drama was not over yet. Chris Woakes trapped Smith LBW. As he had done in the previous over, Smith opted for a referral. This time, however, the third umpire stayed with the on-field call: the bowl would have hit the off-stump. Smith walked back for a mere 6. Root could not control his excitement. What has Smith done to the Englishmen?

Australia catch England by the edge

Eight out of ten Englishmen were out caught, of which five were dismissed off the edge and three were caught and bowled. The English top order had a tough time fighting their demons. James Vince started the bandwagon, falling prey to the probing line outside the off-stump.

Cook likes poking on both Facebook and crease. Opening the face of the bat, Cook could have never pressed down Lyon’s off-break. Smith took an easy catch. The class-apart Root, too, could not hold himself back from having a poke at deliveries. After guiding one past the slip cordon, Root went for another drive. The result was otherwise. Cameron Bancroft took a fine catch in the third slip.

Dawid Malan’s dismissal was different. Yes, there was an edge involved, but he had failed to bring his bat down on time. Paine had dived to his right to pouch the inside edge.

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, it is a Lyon!

Michael Slater jumped off his seat to describe the catch. Vaughan, his namesake, and Kevin Pietersen were left awestruck more by Slater’s reaction than by the catch. Lyon had pulled off a Steven Smith: Jumping to his left, midway through his follow-through, Lyon had pounced on a catch to dismiss Moeen Ali for 25. It was a cricket-believe-it-or-not moment.

Craig overturns with bat

Debutant Craig Overton was England’s pick of the bowler in the first innings and he continued to be the best Englishman with bat as well. His 66-run stand with Woakes delayed Australia’s plan to bat again. Overton was top-scorer for England, remaining unbeaten on 41 off 79.

The mood swings

The Ashes often produces thrill in the last sessions. After a tough day with the bat, England displayed a top-class bowling performance. Anderson and Woakes took 2 wickets each, throttling Australia to 53 for 4 in 26 overs.

Bancroft had probably spent way too much time watching the Englishmen bat. He produced an encore of their dismissals: Anderson’s outswinger kissed the outside edge and rested in the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

Anderson then came round the wicket and angled one away from Khawaja. He would have defended it in 1 out of 100 times. That 1 was not today. Warner, too, faced a peach of a delivery, and we have already discussed Smith’s dramatic stay in the middle.

Brief scores:

Australia 442 for 8 (Usman Khawaja 53, Shaun Marsh 103*, Tim Paine 57; Stuart Broad 2 for 57, Craig Overton 2 for 89) and 53 for 4 (Usman Khawaja 20; James Anderson 2 for 16; Chris Woakes 2 for 13) lead England 227 (Craig Overton 41, Nathan Lyon 4 for 60) by 268 runs.

Full scorecard