Cook leads England battle to salvage game

LONDON • England captain Alastair Cook led his cricket side's resistance as they battled to avoid an innings defeat by Australia in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval yesterday.

At tea on the third day, England, following on, were 123 for three in their second innings - still 209 runs behind Australia's first innings 481, which featured captain-elect Steven Smith's 143.

Left-handed opener Cook was 54 not out and Jonny Bairstow was 20 not out.

England at least have the consolation of having already won the Ashes at 3-1 up in the five-match series.

They lost their last seven first-innings wickets for just 46 runs during Friday's evening session.

The home side were bowled out yesterday morning for 149 and were asked to follow on.

England's collapse was not as bad as Australia's rapid decline to 60 all out on the first morning of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.

However, it made a mockery of their desire to become the first England team to win four Tests in a home Ashes campaign.

They will now have to bat resolutely over the next two days to at least force a draw.

In Colombo, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews hit a century before India fought back to assume control of the second Test at the P. Sara Oval yesterday.

The tourists, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Galle, ended Sri Lanka's first innings at 306 after tea on the third day in reply to their own 393.

India closed the day at 70-1 in their second knock, an overall lead of 157 runs with nine wickets in hand on the slow, wearing pitch that promises to help spinners on the last two days.

Earlier, Mathews hit a glorious 102 to lift his team to a strong position before India turned the tables after a barren morning session.

Sri Lanka, who had started the day at 140-3, were cruising at 241-3 soon after lunch when India hit back to take the last seven wickets for 65 runs.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra finished with four wickets while seamer Ishant Sharma and Ashwin claimed two each.


Day 4, England v Australia: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 6pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'Cook leads England battle to salvage game'. Print Edition | Subscribe