Root and Malan squander starts but Cook grinds on


Lunch England 4 for 264 (Cook 134*, Bairstow 16*) trail Australia 327 by 63 runs
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Joe Root again failed to convert a half-century and Dawid Malan neglected to review an lbw despite having gained a thick inside edge on the ball on the third day at the MCG. All the while, Alastair Cook continued to bat and bat, and at lunch he was on 134, alongside Jonny Bairstow, who had 16, and England had moved on to 4 for 264, with a deficit of 63.

Root began the morning on 49 and had no trouble registering his third fifty of the series, but on 61 he threw his innings away with a top-edged pull off Pat Cummins that pinpointed Nathan Lyon at deep square leg. It continued Root’s frustrating habit of getting out after reaching a half-century; his career conversion rate of fifties to hundreds is 27%, roughly half that of his counterpart Steven Smith.

Still, the Root-Cook partnership had been worth 138 and had delivered England to a position from which they could hope for a first-innings lead. The loss of Malan in strange circumstances was a blow, though.

On 14, Malan was adjudged lbw to Josh Hazlewood and decided against using a review, although replays confirmed the ball had rocketed off his inside edge onto his pad. It made Malan the second England batsman this innings to be lbw off his inside edge, after James Vince also failed to review his lbw on the second day.

Meanwhile, Cook added 30 to his overnight score as England progressed by 72 for the loss of Root and Malan, and an England lead by tea looked like a distinct possibility.



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