Headingley: As entertaining as a day of Test cricket can get with England reducing Australia to 116/4, who extended their lead to 142.
Despite losing four wickets before stumps on Day 2, Australia managed to strengthen their position in the third Ashes Test as their lead swelled to 142.
Second outing with the bat came for Australia on the second day after a strong bowling performance led by Pat Cummins resulted in England being bowled out for 237, allowing the hosts to reduce the first-innings deficit to a mere 26 runs.
England managed to dismiss David Warner in single digits once again as their pacer Stuart Broad dismissed the Aussie opener for the 17th time in Test cricket. Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne survived the remaining overs before Tea, taking their side to 29/1 with a lead of 55.
Khawaja and Labuschagne proceeded to build a significant partnership for Australia. Their partnership was worth 57 runs when Moeen Ali had the latter caught by Harry Brook at deep mid-wicket. Not impressed with his shot selection, a disappointed Labuschagne walked back to the pavilion for 77-ball 33.
In his next over, Moeen struck again, claiming his 200th wicket in Test cricket and it was the prized scalp of Steve Smith, who flicked the ball straight into the hands of mid-wicket fielder Ben Duckett.
Australia faced another setback when set batter Khawaja, who was patiently approaching towards his fifty, was caught behind for 43.
Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh ensured Australia didn’t suffer any more setbacks before stumps on Day 2. The pair added an unbeaten 26-run stand, taking the visitors to 116/4.
Earlier, England resumed Day 2 under bright and sunny conditions at Headingley on 68/3, trailing Australia by 195 runs. The visitors struck early on, with skipper Pat Cummins claiming the big wicket of Joe Root on the second ball of the day.
Root was caught at the second slip by David Warner, departing without adding a single run to his previous day’s tally, for 19. One brought two for Australia as Mitchell Starc had Jonny Bairstow caught in the cordon where Steve Smith grabbed the opportunity at head height.
The next batter in was Moeen Ali, who, along with Ben Stokes began the process of rebuilding the innings for England. The hosts’ captain survived an LBW decision after being given not out by on-field umpire Kumar Dharmasena, and the review showing the impact was the umpire’s call.
The duo took England past the 100-run mark as the partnership started to flourish. However, in the last half an hour of the morning session, Australia broke the 44-run sixth-wicket stand. Cummins struck again, using the short-ball tactic to send Moeen Ali (21) back, who was caught in the slips by Smith.
Australia were dominant in the first session, further weakening England’s position to 142/7 after dismissing Chris Woakes on the stroke of lunch. Starc once again used a short ball, resulting in Woakes faintly edging it to the wicketkeeper while attempting to pull the delivery.
England began the second session in style with the new batter, Mark Wood, smashing two sixes and a four on the first three balls, making their intentions clear. In the next over, he hit another six before becoming Pat Cummin’s fifth wicket of the innings.
With wickets falling at the other end, Stokes changed his approach and began to score quickly, hitting a series of boundaries. After scoring 27 runs from 67 balls before lunch, he added an additional 53 runs from just 42 balls.
Stokes also survived twice in Todd Murphy’s over as Starc charged in, but failed to grab the chance, While, on the next ball, Murphy missed a challenging caught and bowled opportunity.
In the following two overs by Murphy, Stokes hit back-to-back sixes, but the spinner ultimately claimed the prized scalp of the England captain for a well-made 80. Australia dismissed England for 237, with the hosts narrowing the first-innings deficit to just 26 runs.