Headingley, Aug 25 : After making a gritty half-century to help keep England afloat on the third day here, middle-order batsman Joe Denly said that his side has a realistic chance of levelling the Ashes series, with a victory in the third Test.
Set a daunting target of 359 – only Australia have successfully chased down a higher total in the country – the first-innings demons returned to haunt England as they were reduced to 15/2.
That is when Denly, alongside his captain Joe Root, got together to buckle down and steady the innings. Together, the duo put on 126 for the third wicket to leave the Test hanging in the balance by the time stumps were drawn on Saturday.
"I rate our chances very highly," Denly said. "There are not too many demons in the pitch. We are in a very good position. There is a lot of belief in that changing room and excitement going into tomorrow."
Winning from here would require England to outdo their best fourth-innings effort to win a Test – a 332-run chase against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1928 – but Denly believed the outcome could be a favourable one if they manage to dig in and get a couple more of the partnership that he and Root had, an ICC report said.
By stumps, Root had moved to 75 not out, a fighting but far from assured knock, as he was beaten on both edges routinely by Josh Hazlewood and struggled against Nathan Lyon’s nagging line from over the wicket late in the third session. Giving him company was Ben Stokes, who seemed unfazed as he blocked resolutely to finish on 2 not out off 50 balls.
With Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and an accomplished lower order to follow, Denly said that the task is doable, so long as they can show the fight and character it demands.
"We were disappointed with the 67 and it was not good enough,” Denly said, “but it's about showing character and fight in this second innings."
"We believe. If we get one or two more partnerships tomorrow, we're in with a real shout,” he added. (UNI)