After a see-saw battle between England and Australia in a rain-affected contest, the second Test at Lord’s eventually ended in a draw as the visitors maintained their 1-0 advantage in the ongoing Ashes. Despite the outcome, the match saw some closely contested battles, with England overpowering the visitors in the final day.
Starting the day at 96/4, Ben Stokes mauled the Australian bowlers, adding 99 runs in just 126 balls to his overnight score and provided England with a slender chance of bowling out the Aussies, which they almost achieved.
Here are the key takeaways from the match:
Jonny Bairstow leading England’s recovery
The first day was washed out and with rain predicted to play spoilsport on the remaining days, a draw seemed the most likely outcome. However, the Australian bowling line-up of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon pushed the hosts on backfoot as England slipped from 92/2 to 138/6 on the first half of Day 2, until Jonny Bairstow walked out. The wicket-keeper batsman stitched a crucial partnership with Chris Woakes as the pair rescued the hosts, adding 72 runs for the seventh wicket.
Bairstow was the final English batsman to be dismissed but only after he had rescued the inning, which risked being a total disaster for England. His 52 off 95 deliveries, which included seven boundaries, helped England post a respectable 258 on the board, which later turned out to be enough to provide the hosts with an eight-run lead.
The man that cannot be moved
Carrying forward his incredible run from the first Test, Steve Smith once again led the Australian batting and fell short of his third century of the series by just eight runs. Despite taunts from fans and repeatedly being tested by some ferocious bouncers by debutant Jofra Archer, the World No 3 showed fine composure as he remained the difference between the two sides.
Hit on the left forearm earlier in the innings, Smith was forced to leave the pitch after being struck on the neck by a fearsome 148.7 kmph bouncer that caused him to collapse. Returning to the middle after 40 minutes, Smith’s approach remained unaffected and he slammed three boundaries in the eight balls before getting trapped LBW on 92.
Following the match, English skipper Root said that Archer’s inclusion changed the course of the series and also praised the youngster for “living up to the hype.” The Barbados-born cricketer, who replaced the injured James Anderson in the team for the second Test, took five wickets. But his pace combined with late swing and lethal bouncers created an impact. The 24-year-old troubled almost every Australian with his fearsome bouncers and also knocked Smith out of the equation, something which England bowlers failed to do in the first Test.
Despite more than five sessions lost due to rain, Archer’s searing pace provided England with a real chance of winning the second Test.
Ben Stokes unleashed
Coming out to bat on a tricky fifth-day wicket, it was expected that England would play to save the match and bat through most of the day. However, Stokes’ brutal hitting right from the beginning changed the course of the match as it gave England a chance.
The all-rounder added 99 runs in just 126 balls, which included eleven boundaries and three sixes, as England declared their innings on 258/5 and gave themselves 50 overs to bowl out Australia.
Job done perfectly
With Smith ruled out from participating in the second inning, Marnus Labuschagne had a daunting task of filling in for him. The first concussion substitute in Test and international cricket, Labuschagne walked out with Australia struggling, having lost David Warner and Usman Khwaja. To make things more difficult for the 25-year-old, he was welcomed with a jaw-breaking bouncer by Archer, with the helmet grill coming to his rescue. With 42 overs still to be bowled, Labuschagne had a role to fulfill and he did it by scoring a much-needed half-century. He was dismissed on 59 by Jack Leach but by the time the job was almost done and Australia were on the cusp of saving the match.
With England still trailing 1-0, the focus now shifts to Leeds with the hosts aiming to build on the momentum of the final day of the second Test. Australia, on the other hand, will be wary of Smith’s unavailability for the upcoming Test, which starts Thursday.