Day four of the fourth Ashes Test: England could need more Stokes heroics
England may need another heroic innings from Ben Stokes after falling into trouble in the fourth Ashes Test against Australia at Old Trafford.
The hosts will resume on day four on 200 for five in their first innings, still trailing by 297, with Headingley match-winner Stokes unbeaten on seven. Jonny Bairstow, two not out overnight, will be alongside him.
Their immediate task will be scoring the 98 more runs required to avoid the follow on.
Josh Hazlewood, who swung momentum firmly back in Australia’s favour with three late wickets on Friday, will be looking for more scalps having already taken four for 48.
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Australian cricket journalist Adam Collins suggests that Mitchell Starc will need to improve his line and length after an indifferent performance on Friday.
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England opener Rory Burns, who hit 81 on Friday and shared in a 141-run stand with Joe Root (71), hopes the hosts can summon the spirit of Headingley to pull off another escape.
England may need a performance from Jos Buttler, who has had a poor series so far. He averages just 9.16 having scored only 55 runs in six innings.
Day four key battle – Stokes v Hazlewood
Stokes will be the key wicket as far as Australia are concerned on Saturday morning. “He’s scored a lot of runs this series and is a dangerous player,” said Hazlewood, who will continue to spearhead the tourists’ attack.
New ball due
Australia are six overs away from being able to claim the new ball, something Hazlewood has said is in “our favour”. However, he may need to learn the lessons from Headingley. It was after the new ball was taken in the second innings that Stokes and Bairstow began to turn the momentum, taking 62 runs from the first 10 overs of its use.
Lyon faces the crowd
Nathan Lyon can expect more taunting from the crowd on day four, and possibly for the rest of the series, after being ridiculed on Friday over his costly fluffed run out at Headingley. The spinner was cheered every time the ball was thrown to him by a fielder during overs, a joke that started after an attempted run out. Lyon saw the funny side the first time, raising the ball to the crowd after catching it, but he looked unimpressed when he dropped one later on and had to face even louder cheers.
Australia hoping for some DRS luck
The tourists will be hoping for better luck with the review system after another appeal to the third umpire was turned down on Friday. An lbw verdict in Root’s favour means Australia have now made 10 unsuccessful reviews in the series. Such has been Australia’s poor use of DRS, that captain Tim Paine said before the match he would let someone else make the decisions. Whoever his replacement was, their luck was also out.
What’s the weather for day four?
According to the Met Office, Saturday is likely to be the best day of the match so far. The sun will be out early in the morning ensuring a clear sky for the start of play. It will cloud over in the afternoon but will remain dry with sunny spells and light winds. The temperature will reach a high of 17C.