Sports

The Ashes, 2nd Test, Day 2: England Reach 278-4, Trail Australia By 138 Runs

England captain Ben Stokes (17*) and Harry Brook (45*) were at the crease at the end of day's play. The second session saw an interesting contest between the bat and the ball, with Ben Duckett scoring 98 before succumbing to Hazlewood.

Stokes, left, and Brook leave the field after the end of 2nd Day's play.
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England slashed Australia’s first-innings lead of 416 to 138 after two days of the second Ashes test at Lord’s on Thursday. (More Cricket News)

The bad news for England in comfortably scoring 278 runs was that all four wickets to fall were gifted to Australia.

England batted so serenely through the middle session and to an hour past tea — without even Bazballing it — that Australia spread its fielders, vacating the slips in desperate need of a second wicket.

And Australia’s fortunes worsened when Nathan Lyon, its only wicket-taker at that point and the teammate who seemingly never gets hurt, injured his right calf while running to a ball in the field and hobbled away with help. He didn’t return and the manner of his exit suggested he may not return for the rest of what is his 100th successive test.

Without Lyon’s spin to wear down England, Australia changed its tactics by tempting England with the short ball.

England took the bait.

Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett and world No. 1 Joe Root recklessly went after short balls and gave catches behind square.

Pope spoiled a flowing 97-run stand with Duckett when his pull at Cameron Green sailed straight to Steve Smith at deep backward square leg. Pope made 42 off 63 balls.

In the same over, Root had 1 when he gloved a Green bouncer to wicketkeeper Alex Carey and Australia duly celebrated raucously. But Green committed a no-ball, his fifth of six on the day.

Root used his life on 1 to pass Allan Border into 10th on the all-time test run-scorers list.

But Australia minimized the missed chance by getting Root out for 10, when his pull at Mitchell Starc was brilliantly caught by a diving Smith at backward square. Root reviewed the catch but Smith fairly got his fingers underneath.

Before Root was dismissed, Duckett agonizingly missed his second test century at Lord’s this month when he pulled at Josh Hazlewood and top-edged to David Warner at deep fine leg. Duckett had 98 off 134 balls, including nine boundaries.

After the mad hour from Lyon limping away to Root’s dismissal, Harry Brook and Ben Stokes calmly steered England to stumps against conventional fields, although Brook got a life on 25 when he pulled Pat Cummins to square leg where Marnus Labuschagne dropped an overhead catch.

Brook was on 45 and Stokes on 17 in an unbroken stand of 56.

The only wicket to fall among England’s first 188 runs was Zak Crawley’s in the middle session. Crawley was outsmarted by Lyon and stumped by Carey down the leg side for 48.

Crawley’s partnership of 91 with Duckett was the best by England openers against Australia since 2011 when Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook made 98. That was 32 Ashes tests ago.

Travis Head’s off-breaks compensated for Lyon’s absence. Labuschagne’s drop made Cummins the only pacer to go wicketless but he was the most economical.

Starc was picked ahead of Scott Boland in the only change by Australia after winning at Edgbaston last week, and Starc finished the day better than he started. His first seven overs conceded 55 runs, but the next five overs went for only 20 with the big wicket of Root.

As good as the conditions were for England’s batters — slow pitch, no seam or swing under sunny skies — they were just as good for the England bowlers in the morning when cloud cover and lingering humidity from overnight rain made the ball a threat.

Smith started the day on 85 and Australia five down. When they were seven down, he made his next four scoring shots boundaries to reach his 32nd test century from 169 balls.

It was his 12th hundred against England, and eighth in England. Of all the visitors to England, only Don Bradman has more centuries. The 32 tied him with former captain Steve Waugh at 11th on the all-time list, and he overtook Waugh’s 3,173 runs for fourth on the Ashes list, behind only Bradman, Jack Hobbs and Allan Border. The century was also three weeks after his 121 against India at the Oval in the World Test Championship final.

Smith was out for 110 after more than five hours, edging Josh Tongue to Duckett at gully.

Tongue, in his Ashes debut, took three wickets along with Ollie Robinson.

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