Manchester : In a gripping display of determination and resilience, Marnus Labuschagne’s magnificent century breathed life into Australia’s chances on the penultimate day of the fourth Test match of the series in Manchester. At tea, the visitors trailed England by 61 runs, with the scoreboard reading 214/5, and with Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green at the crease, Australia looked to build on Labuschagne’s heroics.
The opening session had been washed out, but that didn’t deter Labuschagne as he confidently tackled the English bowlers at the crease. He reached his half-century with a couple of runs off the fiery Mark Wood, proving his intent to take the game to the hosts. However, in the same game, he had a heart-stopping moment when a vicious bouncer struck his glove as he attempted a pull shot. But the gritty batsman refused to be shaken and continued to battle on.
With a resilient partnership between Labuschagne and Mitchell Marsh, Australia managed to add 150 runs in 52.3 overs, holding their ground against England’s bowling attack. Labuschagne’s moment of glory came in the 63rd over, as he reached his century off the bowling of Moeen Ali. It was a hard-fought milestone, achieved in 161 balls, and marked his first three-figure score since December.
Australia, which had suffered early blows, found renewed hope in the enterprising partnership between Labuschagne and Marsh. They reached the 200-run mark in the 64th over, causing a few nerves in the English camp. Sensing the need for a breakthrough, England turned to their former skipper, Joe Root, whose golden arm came through once again. Root induced an edge off Labuschagne’s bat, and Jonny Bairstow made no mistake, safely pouching the catch behind the stumps.
Labuschagne’s valiant innings finally came to an end, but not before he had scored a crucial 111 runs off 173 balls. His century injected hope and momentum back into the Australian innings.
At the close of play in the second session, Australia’s score stood at 113-4, with Mitchell Marsh not out on 31 and Cameron Green on 3*. The visitors still had work to do to bridge the gap with England’s first-innings total of 592, in which Josh Hazlewood played a significant role, claiming five wickets for 126 runs.
The match was finely poised heading into the final day, with Australia determined to set a challenging target for England to chase down. The home side, on the other hand, aimed to wrap up the series with a victory at their home ground.