WATCH: Chris Woakes makes light work of David Warner and Usman Khawaja to reignite England's hopes
Chris Woakes played a pivotal role in reigniting England's hopes of a series-leveling victory during the last day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval. Initially, Australia openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja had built a solid foundation, reaching 140-0 while chasing a challenging target of 384 runs.
However, Woakes utilized the favorable overcast and fresh pitch conditions, perfect for swing and seam bowling to dismiss both left-handed batters in quick succession. In just seven balls, he claimed two wickets, reducing the tourists to 141-2.
The current Ashes holders, Australia had already secured the series at 2-1. They began the day at 135-0, with Warner on 58 not out and Khawaja unbeaten on 69, making them slight favorites to achieve a 3-1 series win and their first Ashes triumph in England since 2001.
Stuart Broad, the illustrious England pace bowler, took the attack in an attempt to dismiss Warner for the 18th time in Tests after announcing his retirement post-match on Saturday. However, it was Woakes who broke through the defense, as a well-directed delivery seamed away from Warner to take the outside edge and presented wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow with a simple catch. Warner departed after scoring a well-made 60 runs.
Australia need to script history to win
Soon after, Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the series, followed Warner back to the pavilion. Woakes dismissed him for 72 as he was caught on the crease in front of middle and leg stumps by a full-length delivery. Khawaja reviewed the decision, hoping the ball had pitched outside leg stump, but the replays upheld the on-field umpire's call.
Although Australia had a solid start to their run-chase, history was not on their side. If they were to achieve their target, it would be the eighth-highest successful fourth-innings total in any Test match and the second-highest in England, behind Australia's 404-3 at Headingley in 1948. Moreover, it would set a new ground record, surpassing the highest successful fourth-innings chase at The Oval, which currently stands at England's 263-9 against Australia in 1902.