All eyes on Joe Root as England battle for survival

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27 Dec 2021 | 01:44 PM
authorShweta Haranhalli

All eyes on Joe Root as England battle for survival

A look ahead to a riveting day of cricket expected on the third day of the third Ashes Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground

The Melbourne crowd erupted in joy as Scott Boland scalped the massive wicket of Haseeb Hameed in his first over of the second innings to jolt the visiting side in the final moments of day two.

All through the day, the crowd had moments to cherish as the local lad, Marcus Harris too, notched up his first half-century this season to anchor the innings. The southpaw scored 76 to help the home team post 267 in the first innings and take an 82-run lead. 

After a riveting day of cricket dominated by the bowling unit of the two sides, England endured a batting collapse in the final hour of the play to hand the home team a massive advantage heading into the third day. 

With the visiting side reeling at 31 for 4  with a deficit of 51 runs, the onus will rely heavily on Joe Root to shoulder the responsibility of the side and guide the team out of this challenging situation. 

Middle-order's impressive run in third innings 

While the skipper has been in sublime form this season, with 1692 runs in 29 innings at an average of 62.67, the rest of the England batting unit has crumbled around him, resulting in their downfall. 

Despite their struggle in the last hour of the session, England can take solace from their record in the third innings since 2016. The Three Lions have four players on the list of leading run-scorers for the side in the longest format of the game in the last five years. 

With Root and Ben Stokes holding fort, the team would hope for Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler to replicate similar performances in the third innings to help England save the series and the Urn. 

The duo have amassed 787 and 562 runs at an average of 29.15 and 28.1 runs respectively and will be the key players in the middle-order of the side. 

Cause of concern for the vising side 

While the batting unit of England have a sublime record in the third innings, the visiting side will be concerned about the lack of partnerships in the recent past. 

In the last four years, England have the worst balls per wicket ratio at the MCG in 2017 on Day three as they lost 43 wickets on the third day with a ball per wicket ratio of 48.5, the worst for them across five days at the venue. 

With the middle-order struggling for runs in the last two Tests, the team management would be wary of the consistent episodes of collapse. 

Australia's prolific run at home 

The home team displayed fast bowling of the highest calibre in the final moments of day two to enthrall the crowd at MCG to rock the batting unit of the visiting side with four quick wickets. 

The bowling unit of the Australian side have a sublime record in the third innings at home since 2016 as they have scalped a wicket every 47.9 balls, which is the second-best among all the teams. 

With an opportunity to seal the series, Cummins would expect his bowling unit to produce a similar performance and end the year with an emphatic win. 

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Australia vs EnglandEngland tour of Australia, 2021/22EnglandAustraliaJoe RootBen StokesJos ButtlerJonny BairstowScott BolandMarcus Harris

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