A timely century by Jonny Bairstow and a half-century for Ben Stokes helped England claw its way back to 258-7 after a terrible start to the third day of the fourth Ashes test.

Bairstow scored England’s ‘ first century in its seventh innings this series against Australia.

It was the headline performance Friday, when England had slumped to 36-4 by lunch before its middle order counterattacked to get back into the match on another rain-affected day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In clear pain after being struck on the thumb by a Pat Cummins delivery and with batting partners running out, Bairstow began attacking at nearly every ball and brought up a deserved century moments before stumps by slashing a Cummins delivery for four. His 138-ball hundred contained 12 boundaries and three sixes.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” Bairstow said. ”To be honest, it’s the hardest (century) so far given the circumstances.

“They’ve got a very good bowling attack and it’s one of those where I’m just delighted to reach three figures for England again.”

Bairstow celebrated his seventh test century by running with arms aloft halfway toward the England team’s dressing room, where his teammates had gathered to acknowledge a vital innings in the context of the match which had earlier looked to be slipping away. England has already lost the five-match series with three straight losses, allowing Australia to retain the Ashes, but are determined to get something positive out of the tour.

At stumps, Bairstow was 103 not out and Jack Leach was on four, with England trailing Australia by 158 runs.

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