Ben Stokes tipped to miss final Ashes Test after battling 66 in Sydney fightback

Ben Stokes has been tipped to sit out the final Ashes Test in Hobart through injury despite his gritty performance at the crease on Friday in Sydney.

England 's talismanic all-rounder was clearly in pain throughout his innings, having suffered a suspected side strain while bowling earlier in the match.

But it didn't stop him from giving his all when he came in at five, saddled with huge pressure after watching captain Joe Root get caught for a duck.

That wicket left England on the brink of another batting disaster down under, but Stokes and Jonny Bairstow took the game by the scruff of the neck and gave the visitors' hopes of avoiding a whitewash a real boost.

It could have gone differently though. Stokes was dropped by Pat Cummins before Cameron Green's delivery flicked his off stump – but so lightly that the bails did not fall and the Englishman survived.

He made the most of it by hitting 66 off 91 before eventually falling to an lbw from Nathan Lyon shortly after tea.

England could do with more such resilient batting from Stokes in the final Test, but broadcaster and former England star Jonathan Agnew does not think he will be able to take part due to his injury which is clearly causing him great discomfort.

"I can't think we'll see Ben Stokes in the fifth Test. You can't mess about with side strains," Agnew said on BBC Test Match Special .

Fortunately, if Stokes is unable to play, England will likely still be able to rely on the brilliant Bairstow, who gave the visitors something to be proud of at the crease for the first time in this doomed series.

Bairstow and Mark Wood cut loose once Stokes and Jos Buttler had fallen, swinging big for boundaries and making the most of their time at the crease at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Wood's 39 off 41 balls was entertaining, but Bairstow took the headlines by recording England's first century of the whole series by hitting his way to 103 before the end of the day's play.

He has the chance to add to that once play resumes for day four, and the longer he can stay at the crease, the better England's chances will be of forcing a draw to scupper Australia 's whitewash hopes.

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