Australia close on Ashes as England captain Root falls in third Test

Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


England captain Joe Root added just two to his overnight score before he was dismissed for 77 to bolster Australia's chances of completing an Ashes-clinching win on the fourth day of the third Test at Headingley on Sunday.

With the new ball available to Australia in two overs, Root went down the pitch to off-spinner Nathan Lyon's third ball of the day and tried to work it legside.

But the ball deflected off his back leg, looped over Australia captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, with David Warner taking a superb divng catch at first slip.

The end of Root's 205-ball innings left England 159-4 in the 78th over and still needing a further 200 runs to reach an imposing victory target of 359.

Only three sides have made more than 300 to win in the fourth innings of a Test at Headingley -- Australia (404-3 in 1948), England (315-4 against Australia, 2001) and the West Indies with 322-5 two years ago.

England were now left looking to all-rounder Ben Stokes and new batsman Jonny Bairstow, like Root playing on his Yorkshire home ground, as they tried to level this five-match series at 1-1.

That England had any chance at all of a win, even a remote one, was remarkable given they had been dismissed for just 67 -- their lowest Ashes total since 1948 -- in the first innings.

Another sun-drenched day in Leeds saw England resume on 156-3, with Root 75 not out and Stokes two not out after facing 50 balls on Saturday.

They had yet to add to their overnight score when Stokes missed an a pull off a Josh Hazlewood bouncer that smashed into his helmet, between the grille and peak, with the stem guard protecting his neck flying off at the back.

The all-rounder, who made an unbeaten century in the drawn second Test at Lord's, was cleared to bat on, however.

Eventually Root scored England's first run of Sunday's play off the 26th ball of the day only to be dismissed soon afterwards.

If Australia win this match they will retain the Ashes at 2-0 up with two to play having thrashed England by 251 runs in the series opener at Edgbaston.