After persistent showers did not allow any play on Day 1, Lord’s was greeted by a sunny morning for the second Ashes Test to get underway. Australian skipper, Tim Paine won the toss and surprisingly elected to bowl first in dry conditions. Responding to their captain’s call, the Australian bowlers did not show any signs of complacency after a massive 251-run victory in the first Test.
Josh Hazlewood, coming back into the side, was the first to cash in on a diffident England batting unit by removing Jason Roy for a duck in the second over of the day. Joe Root, who has promoted himself to number three in this series, looked solid yet again when he drove Pat Cummins for consecutive boundaries through the covers but was later trapped in front of the stumps by Hazlewood. LBW has become Joe Root’s Achilles heel. The current English Test skipper was dismissed LBW only six times in the first four years of his Test career (2012-2016) but has fallen prey to the mode of dismissal 18 times since 2017.
After losing two early wickets, Rory Burns and Joe Denly batted cautiously ensuring England does not receive any further blow till lunch. Burns, who was dropped by Usman Khawaja before lunch and later by Paine, registered his third Test fifty. However, the first highlight of the afternoon session was the complete overhaul in Australian tactics.
Before lunch, the visitors focused on pitching the ball full to extract lateral movement. Hazlewood got Roy and Root by exploiting the corridor of uncertainty. Later, both Hazlewood and Cummins bent their back targeting the rib cage of Burns and Denly. The move turned out to be a masterstroke on a two-paced Lord’s wicket. Denly, after being hit on his left blow was caught behind off another fullish delivery by Hazlewood which was a clear result of the short-ball ploy that had curbed his feet movement. Burns followed him shortly when he fended a rising delivery from Cummins to Cameron Bancroft at short-leg.
It was just few days ago when Bancroft was described as the best short-leg fielder he has ever seen by the Australian great, Steve Waugh and he justified Waugh’s words with a stupendous diving catch to send Burns back for 53.
Burns’ departure marked a slump in England’s innings. Short of confidence, Jos Buttler edged Peter Siddle behind handing the right-arm pacer his only wicket in the innings. Ben Stokes, after carving Nathan Lyon through the square leg boundary with a commanding sweep shot few balls ago found himself plumb in front of the stumps trying to repeat the same. Starting the session at 77 for 2, England found themselves in trouble again at 138 for 6 only 20 overs further in the innings.
It was up to Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes to absorb the pressure and rebuild England’s innings. The duo got together forging a breezy 72-run stand for the seventh wicket that saw England go past the 200-run mark. Woakes was dismissed for 32 as a result of another short ball barrage by Cummins during which he was also hit on his head.
With little firepower left in the batting arsenal, Bairstow established little but significant partnerships with the lower order batsmen to take England total’s past 250. He also notched up a half-century for himself in the process. He was the last wicket to fall in an attempt to accumulate quick runs and England’s first innings folded for 258.
In a complete teamwork, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon picked three wickets each while Siddle, the most unfortunate of the lot to have seen two catches dropped off his bowling also contributed with the scalp of Buttler.
The Australian openers, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, faced a testing new ball spell from the England openers. Warner was eventually castled by an in-coming delivery from Stuart Broad which pierced through his defence to remove his leg bail.
Usman Khawaja and Cameron Bancroft remained unseparated by the end of day’s play not allowing any further inroads to the England bowlers.
Australia 30 for 1 (Khawaja 18*, Broad 1/13) trail England 258 (Burns 53, Hazlewood 3/58) by 228 runs at Stumps on Day 2