Australia came very close to taking an unassailable lead in an Ashes in England after a while but failed to find the nails even after having the opponents in the coffin. Having set a target of 359 f0r the hosts in the third Test at Leeds, Tim Paine’s side took all but one wicket and that saw the Three Lions levelling the series 1-1 after having lost the first Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs.
All-rounder Ben Stokes, who made the headlines after England won their maiden World Cup in the 50-over format last month, was a hero again as he slammed an unbeaten 135 to seal the game. He added 76 unbeaten runs for the final wicket with Jack Leach to take his side to a historic win. England haven’t lost an Ashes at home since 2001 when Steve Waugh’s Australia had won 4-1.
While the visitors were distraught after the Leeds loss, a special sympathy was oozing out for their off-spinner Nathan Lyon who had almost taken the final wicket not once but twice when England were two runs away from victory but failed to nail it on both occasions.
Missed runout, then LBW appeal turned down
The first instance came when Stokes played a reverse sweep and Leach went far too down to take a single. He was sent back midway when Pat Cummins had thrown the ball at Nathan Lyon but the latter failed to collect it properly to run Leach out.
It was in the same over when the experienced bowler trapped Stokes in front but umpire Joel Wilson turned the appeal down. Replays showed that the ball would have hit the stumps but Australia found themselves to be helpless, having eaten up all their reviews. Lyon was clearly heartbroken by the two instances, as Brett Lee was after that nail-biting Test in the 2005 series which Australia lost by a couple of runs.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who was in charge of the side in the 2005 series, advised the Australian players to stand by Nathan Lyon and help him get over the disappointment. He said the off-spinner must be feeling “terrible” for having let his side down.
“He’ll feel terrible at the moment, he’ll feel like he’s let his team down,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. “But that happens in the game. He’s won so many games for Australia as well. He’s got 350-odd Test wickets, so he’s done lots right through his career. And we’ve all had moments like that where you’ve dropped a catch or missed a run-out or played a bad shot at the wrong time and you do feel bad about it for a while.”
“But it’s up to his mates to get him up. That’s the bottom line,” Ponting added. He also said that he believed Australia continued to be the better side of the two and also felt that the Kangaroos will bounce back.
“They can bounce back, they have just got to believe what they’ve done so far is good enough to win every Test match they’ve played. They had their chances to win at Lord’s as well with a couple of catches put down and a couple of reviews they didn’t use,” he said. The fourth Test begins at Old Trafford on September 4.
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