Australia focused on batting the entire day five, says Labuschagne as chances of Ashes series win look bright

Sports Sunday 23/July/2023 07:52 AM
Australia focused on batting the entire day five, says Labuschagne as chances of Ashes series win look bright

Manchester : Following the conclusion of rain-hit day four of fourth Ashes Test, Australian batter Marnus Labuschangne said that keeping the role of weather in mind, the team's focus on final day is to bat the entire day to secure the draw and retain the Ashes.

England's chances to keep the Ashes alive took a hit as during a rain-affected day four, not only did the hosts miss out on a lot of precious game time, but century by Labuschagne also reduced England's lead to just 61 runs. The hosts need to take five wickets to win the match by an innings. If they win, they will keep the Ashes alive at 2-2, setting up an exciting decider or else, the best they can do is win the fifth Test and draw the series 2-2.

But still, Aussies will retain the Ashes in case of a series draw. In this situation, Labuschagne said that his team was aware of the fact that day four was not going to be long and they had to "stay on" for as much as two hours. Now, their chances of winning their first Ashes series awa from home since 2001 look strong.

"As players you have to be prepared to play, and think we saw we took the game on," said Labuschagne as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

"We knew the task we had. We knew it was not going to be a massively long day, but we had to be on for that two-hour stint. For us now, it is about retaining the Ashes, this is what it comes down to, whatever time we have left tomorrow, there is only one option which is bat out the day. The rain will play its part but I certainly think there will be some play," he added.

Labuschagne was not at all enthusiastic about taking a lead and giving England a chance to chase.

"No, no chance, zero. As in get ahead? We are sixty behind!" he said.

"I mean if Mitch gets going maybe, if Mitch and Green put on an absolutely unbelievable partnership, but I think we are just going to let it play out, get bowled out when we do. I do not think we are going to give England a sniff, I think that is exactly what they would like," he concluded.

Australia ended the fourth day at 214/5, with Cameron Green (3*) and Mitchell Marsh (31*) unbeaten. Labuschagne smashed his second century away from home, scoring 111 in 173 balls with 10 fours and two sixes. With this, England's lead is just 61 runs for now.

Earlier, in reply to Australia's 317 in first innings, England had scored 592 runs in their first innings. They had gained a lead of 275 runs.

Australia became victim of some heavy hitting from the host's top seven batters. Zak Crawley (189 in 182 balls, with 21 fours and three sixes) led the attack with his maiden Ashes ton.

Moeen Ali (54 in 82 balls, with seven fours), Joe Root (84 in 95 balls with eight fours and a six), Harry Brook (61 in 100 balls, with five fours), skipper Ben Stokes (51 in 74 balls with five fours) and Jonny Bairstow (99* in 81 balls with 10 fours and four sixes) played impactful knocks.

Besides Josh Hazlewood's five-wicket haul, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green took two wickets each while Pat Cummins got one.

After opting to field first, England bundled out Australia for 317 in the first innings.

Marnus Labuschagne (51), Mitchell Marsh (51), Steve Smith (41), Travis Head (48) and Mitchell Starc (36) played some vital knocks for the Aussies.

Chris Woakes (5/62), Stuart Broad (2/68) and James Anderson (1/51) impressed with the ball for England.