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Live Cricket Score: England vs Australia, 3rd Ashes Test, Day 4

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BEN STOKES, YOU BEAUTY!

How are you feeling if you're an England fan. Just over a month ago Ben Stokes defied herculean odds to get England the World Cup, and today, he's given the fans a similar high, a similar feeling of absolute ecstacy. He's spent deliveries not being able to watch how the bespectacled No.11 Jack Leach fends off, he's spent balls on his haunches merely out of exhaustion from carrying his side in a chase like this. But here he is, at the end of it, roaring in absolute delight for having shouldered his team through to what will go down as one of the greatest Test match victories. Sure, Australia had their moments, and bad luck in the form of an under-performing umpire Joel Wilson, but Stokes's unbeaten 135 will be remembered for ages. A shoutout to Jack Leach too who held his nerve in the face of such pressure, kept the finest batsman of his team company through such a phase and picked what could be the most crucial single run in the game. Special mentions for Joe Denly, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow too, whose contributions now seem dwarfed in front of what Stokes has gone on to achieve. Headingley has never been shy of being hosts to exceptional Test matches (remember Sri Lanka's incredible win in 2014?) and does it once again here today. When the series began, it appeared to be heading towards becoming Steve Smith's Ashes, but Stokes has given it an almighty diversion here. Even with Smith's return likely in the next game, don't put it beyond the England all-rounder to make it Stokes's Ashes. What this incredible victory also does is it keeps the series well and truly alive. The teams have a week to soak in what just transpired on a magical Day 4 here, drink it all up, rejoice, reflect and hit reset if you're an Australian before the fourth game in Manchester from September 4.

Harris drops Stokes: Is that the match there? A thickish outside edge as Stokes slogs, Harris runs in from third man, dives and drops. And the next ball from Cummins? A boundary. England now need only 13 runs. We don't like that number.

Overs 117-122 --> Wake me up when this from Ben Stokes ends. This is too good to qualify as sport. Stokes has his 8th Test hundred here, and has brought it up with a boundary off Josh Hazlewood, the bowler who was unplayable at the start of this session. Follows it up with two consecutive sixes into the mid-wicket stand and the crowd riots with their vocal chords. This always felt possible. England now need only 18 runs. Good luck, Jack Leach.

Overs 111-116 --> I'm having to change my update here. Had written how Archer is laying into Lyon with two slog-sweeps in an over, and that stands true still, but Archer is out now. Falls to an in-out-in catch by Travis Head in the deep off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, which was a nice change-up from all the pace barrage from Australia. Pattinson's yorker then gets rid of Broad soon after, and Australia are now on the brink.

Overs 106-110 --> This update also starts with a wicket alert. Shoot me, yes. Woakes falls this time (I know you're a bit relieved to hear that... because it's not Stokes) and it's Hazlewood with the wicket again. Softened Waokes with the short balls and had him miscuing the drive to Wade at short cover. So Buttler from the first innings. The run flow has stalled all of a sudden and 97 runs are starting to feel like 40 too many. But we'd be fools to predict the outcome of this Test. Let's not talk about the time I made a prediction on this very blog, okay?

Overs 101-105 --> England now need less than 100 runs to win but Jos Buttler is run out, sold down the river by Ben Stokes. But amazing how this Test is oscillating, and how I might be coming out as a bit volatile and somewhat neurotic on the blog. Just the last update from me was a little pessimistic from England's POV but here I am, telling you now how Stokes can actually win this for England despite Australia chipping at wickets from the other end. He's completed his slowest half-century in Tests and his partnership with Chris Woakes holds key. Of course Australia have the short balls coming in for Woakes. Look at that short leg....

That moment when Stokes sent Buttler back... That moment when Stokes sent Buttler back... ©Getty

Overs 97-100 --> Starting the blog with a bit of an anti-climactic news.. Jonny Bairstow is out. Australia came out attacking, having corrected their lines from tripes down leg to peaches outside off. And this is still a newish ball and there's still some pace and bounce in the wicket. Bairstow was ruled out by the on-field umpire even before he actually edged one from Hazlewood behind, but a flat line on snicko saved him on that occasion. Not this time. Not to forget Lyon's impact from the other end. If an edge from Stokes didn't fall short of Warner, Australia would have had two after lunch. Is the end nigh?

Lunch, Day 4:To think that the day started with mute decibels, with Stokes being hit on the helmet by Josh Hazlewood, seems a long time away. England now need only 121 runs with six wickets in hand, and two well-set batsmen at the crease. The partnership between Bairstow and Stokes is 79 off 111, and looks set to take England closer. And there's a certain Jos Buttler to follow, whom Ricky Ponting has already tipped as someone who will make a difference in this run-chase. Can England chase this down? Full session report here.

Overs 85-90 --> Pat Cummins comes back for a new spell with this second new ball and is launched into the stands by Ben Stokes. Headingley makes some noise, the loudest on the day, and it suddenly looks possible. That's where things stand. If you were to start watching this Test match from this moment, you wouldn't know that Australia are still in the game. The decibels at Headingley won't let you. James Pattinson has been wayward too. Where's Nathan Lyon?

On the atmosphere: It's unbelievable, the energy at Headingley today! Every run is being cheered, so England getting past 200 runs in this difficult run chase drew a frighteningly unsynchronized applause from the crowd, which is so unEngland, and so very endearing. Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes look determined at the crease. And it's not just their footwork. It's also the way they are batting, pinching singles, running between the wickets, talking in between overs on this pitch that's now been baled flat by the local sun. Think years of binging of cricket gives me the rights to occasional cognitive conclusions. Am predicting an England win.

Overs 79-84 --> Okay, so things have calmed down a bit. England haven't melted in this Headingley heat. Not yet. Australia have taken the second new ball -- a sentence I didn't really expect to be typing after 67 all out. Not so soon anyway -- but England have looked largely in control. Hazlewood is getting good pace and bounce and is bowling it nice and full.. as two boundaries from Bairstow, one edged through cordon and other nailed through cover, would suggest. We still have a good contest on our hands, telling ya. As long as Stokes is there, the magic of 1981 is never far away.

Statbuzz: With that Root wicket, Nathan Lyon has gone past Dennis Lillee to become the third-highest wicket-taker for Australia. (How many of you thought it's going be an offspinner?

Overs 73-78 --> YES, JOE ROOT HAS FALLEN. No run for the first 20 minutes on the day and you felt like something's gotta give. The period even had Ben Stokes being hit on the helmet so hard by Josh Hazlewood that his neck guard flew off. That was scary to watch. But Root, who moments earlier had scored the first runs of the morning with nudge off Pattinson, uses his feet on the second ball he faced from Lyon, and inside-edges it on the pad.. and wait, it's flying over Paine.. but wait, what?... Warner has dived to his left and absolutely nailed this catch. How many has he taken already in this Test? Wow that's some catch. I sunk a little in my seat realizing how I can never pull that off.

Building it up....

If England's rubbish batting had you making plans for this Sunday, luring you into thinking you're finally going to catch up with that friend you never seem to have the time for, then good luck. You are going to have to make a fresh excuse. Migraines make for the best ones. There's no way someone can know what's going on inside your head.

And why would you meet a friend today? Can't really enjoy redeeming your past no-shows, boosting your dwindling social skills with some liquid courage at a local pub while Joe Root hits those series-levelling runs. And even if England lose, Australia will go on to retain the Ashes. In England. Which is huge. And don't worry. Friends stick by... it's the cricket that you've to be careful with.

As we wait for the toss, good time to catch up on some reading. Bharat Sundaresan, probably mimicking a cricketer right now, writes about Marnus Labuschagne's medical love affair with Australia's team doctor Richard Saw. Vithushan Ehantharajah, probably in splits sitting beside Bharat, wrote on Denly and how he seems to have saved himself from some demons. Yes we all love Imagine Dragons.

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