Ashes: Root, Malan give England hope at the Gabba

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Joe Root and Dawid Malan breathed life into the first Ashes Test against Australia with a defiant partnership of 159 on day three at the Gabba.

In a complete turnaround from England’s first-innings 147 all out, the third-wicket pair took the tourists to 220-2, 58 behind in Brisbane.

Captain Root moved to 86 not out, closing in on his first century in Australia and breaking the record for the number of runs scored by an England batter in a calendar year.

Malan is unbeaten on 80, on the verge of repeating the hundred he made in Perth on England’s last tour down under.

They came together after Rory Burns, who only avoided a pair by overturning being given lbw on nought, fell for 13 and Haseeb Hameed was out for 27.

Australia earlier moved their overnight 343-7 to 425 all out, Travis Head the last man dismissed for 152, reaching 150 from 143 balls – the third-fastest in Ashes history.

Ben Stokes was able to bowl for England having been declared fit from the jarred knee that restricted his involvement on day two.

Australia will have the second new ball available early on day four, providing England with their next obstacle to setting a competitive fourth-innings target.

England battle in Brisbane

After being mauled for the first part of this match, day three belonged to England, even if it is still too early to think about matching the famous escape they managed at the Gabba in 2010.

Still, if they do go on to lose this match, the fact their batters have shown they can compete should boost the tourists for the rest of the series.

There are some niggling problems for Australia, too. David Warner did not take the field because of bruised ribs he suffered when batting, off-spinner Nathan Lyon is yet to take a wicket in the match and miles were covered by the pace bowlers with a short turnaround before the start of the second Test.

The pitch is showing some signs of uneven bounce and offering turn, so it can be argued that England’s decision to bat first and include the spin of Jack Leach had some merit.

For that plan to work, they needed to bat well on day one, rather than be shot out in two sessions.

If England are beaten, it will be because of their first-innings batting. An Australia win is still the favourite, but not as certain as it once was.

Another Root record

Root has compiled one of the all-time great years of Test batting, but his entrance into this series in the first innings saw him feel for an edge to depart for a duck.

On Friday he was back into the groove that has made him so prolific. Rhythmical footwork, refusing to be tied down and scoring all around the wicket.

It is crucial for England that Root has found this touch early in the series, with the visitors unlikely to have a chance of regaining the urn without a big contribution from the skipper.

When he reached 27, he moved past Michael Vaughan’s previous England-best mark of 1,481 runs for the year.

As the shadows lengthened, he played reverse-sweeps against Lyon, his old team-mate from a spell of club cricket in Adelaide.

Root needed treatment on his left leg after being struck by Mitchell Starc, battling through for the noisy pocket of England fans to be singing his name at the close. (BBC Sport)

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