Bairstow’s gutsy hundred leads England fight in Sydney

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Jonny Bairstow scored a gutsy century as England’s batters finally showed some fight against Australia on day three of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

Bairstow’s well-crafted, unbeaten 103 and his 128-run stand with Ben Stokes rescued England after they slipped to 36-4.

Stokes, visibly struggling with a left side injury, made 66, while Mark Wood clubbed an entertaining 39 from 41 balls in a 72-run stand with Bairstow.

Scott Boland took 2-25 as England closed on 258-7, trailing by 158.

Play had been delayed by two hours because of persistent rain at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and England made an poor start when the match resumed.

They lost three wickets in 53 balls and could not find a run before Bairstow and Stokes injected some much-needed impetus into the innings.

The two were able to dominate Australia’s bowlers in a way that England have failed to do throughout the series.

Australia dropped three catches and have an injury concern over Boland, who was taken for a scan after falling in his follow-through in the afternoon session.

While England are still a long way behind in the match, the fight they showed will have been encouraging for the beleaguered dressing room.

Bairstow and Stokes battle hard

At various points, it looked as though Bairstow and Stokes would have to end their innings early – Bairstow with a seriously damaged thumb and Stokes with an injured left side, which he hurt while bowling on day two.

However, both players are competitive and determined to a fault. Bairstow is a batter who thrives on the chance to prove people wrong, while Stuart Broad described Stokes on Thursday as the toughest cricketer he has seen.

Stokes had some luck, first dropped by Pat Cummins in his follow-through on nine before he survived a Cameron Green delivery hitting the stumps but not dislodging the bails on 16.

After being hit on the hand by Green, Stokes changed tactic, hitting three fours in a row off Mitchell Starc to bring up the 50 partnership.

The two batted sensibly towards tea but, when Stokes fell lbw to Lyon shortly after the resumption, Bairstow cut loose.

He slog-swept Lyon for two sixes, never allowing the off-spinner to settle, and continued to pull and drive as Australia’s quicks tried to target his injured thumb.

Bairstow continually took his hand off the bat but was able to soldier on, despite obvious concern from captain Root, who sat on the side of the pitch to observe.

He was briefly overshadowed by Wood, who swung Cummins for three sixes in his entertaining innings, and had to wait until the final over of the day to reach three figures.

He received a standing ovation from the dressing room as he swung Cummins for four to register England’s first century of the tour. (BBC Sport)

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