London – Joe Root's patient fifty led England to 97 for one at lunch on the third day of the fifth and final Ashes Test against Australia at The Oval on Friday.
Replying to Australia's 492/9 declared in ideal batting conditions, Alastair Cook and Root took their opening partnership to 68, England's best of the series, before the captain fell for 25 nibbling at a wide ball from Ryan Harris.
Root dug in, however, to reach 52 not out at the interval with Jonathan Trott on nine, leaving the hosts 395 runs behind the Australians who are 3-0 down in the series.
Cook and Root, who resumed on 32 for no wicket, batted cautiously through the first hour under clear blue skies against tidy but largely unthreatening fast bowling.
Root produced two neat wristy flicks to the mid-wicket boundary and Cook drove Harris square for four but runs were generally hard to come by.
Three balls after the drinks break Cook played needlessly at a wide ball from Harris and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin took a neat diving catch.
The England captain swished his bat in frustration as his disappointing series continued and his dismissal sent Root into his shell.
The 22-year-old failed to score a run off 19 balls in a row but he pulled Peter Siddle for a single just before lunch to reach his half-century, made from 145 deliveries and including eight fours.
It was a welcome return to form for Root who has struggled with the bat since making 180 in the second Test at Lord's. – Reuters