Stokes comes to England’s rescue on Day 2 of third Ashes Test

Skipper Ben Stokes once again came to England’s rescue on the second day of the third Ashes Test against Australia. Also, the bowlers made crucial breakthroughs to keep England’s hopes alive in the Ashes 2023.

Although Australia lost four wickets by the end of Day 2, they strengthened their position in the third Ashes Test, extending their lead to 142 runs. The visitors began their second innings after an impressive bowling performance by Pat Cummins resulted in England being bowled out for 237, narrowing the first-innings deficit to just 26 runs.

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Stuart Broad dismissed David Warner for single-digit runs once more, making it the 17th time the Australian opener fell to him in Test cricket. Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne managed to survive until Tea, taking Australia’s score to 29/1 with a lead of 55 runs. Khawaja and Labuschagne built a significant partnership for Australia, contributing 57 runs before Labuschagne was caught by Harry Brook at deep mid-wicket off Moeen Ali’s bowling. Labuschagne, disappointed with his shot selection, returned to the pavilion after scoring 33 runs off 77 balls.

In the following over, Moeen struck again, reaching the milestone of his 200th wicket in Test cricket, as he claimed the prized scalp of Steve Smith, who flicked the ball straight into the hands of Ben Duckett at mid-wicket. Australia faced another setback when Khawaja, who was nearing his fifty, was caught behind for 43 runs. Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh ensured that Australia avoided any further setbacks before the close of play on Day 2. The pair formed an unbeaten partnership of 26 runs, taking Australia’s total to 116/4.

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Earlier, England resumed on Day 2 under sunny conditions at Headingley with a score of 68/3, trailing Australia by 195 runs. Australia made an early breakthrough when skipper Pat Cummins dismissed Joe Root on the second ball of the day, caught by David Warner at second slip. Root failed to add to his overnight score of 19. Mitchell Starc then dismissed Jonny Bairstow, caught by Steve Smith in the cordon.

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Next in was Moeen Ali, who partnered with Ben Stokes to rebuild the England innings. Despite surviving an LBW decision, with the on-field umpire ruling not out and the review upholding the decision, England’s duo pushed the team beyond the 100-run mark and their partnership began to flourish. However, Australia broke their 44-run stand for the sixth wicket in the final half-hour of the morning session. Cummins sent some short balls to finally dismiss Moeen Ali (21), caught by Smith in the slips.

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Australia dominated the first session, further weakening England’s position to 142/7 as Chris Woakes was dismissed just before lunch. Starc’s short ball led to him edging to the wicketkeeper while attempting a pull shot. England commenced the second session aggressively as new batsman Mark Wood struck two sixes and a four off the first three balls. Wood continued the onslaught by hitting another six before falling victim to Cummins, who claimed his fifth wicket of the innings.

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With wickets tumbling at the other end, Stokes scored quickly, hitting several boundaries. After scoring 27 runs from 67 balls before lunch, he hit an additional 53 runs from just 42 balls. Stokes had two close calls in Todd Murphy’s over as Starc charged in but failed to take advantage of the opportunities. However, on the next ball, Murphy missed a challenging caught-and-bowled chance.

In Murphy’s subsequent two overs, Stokes hit consecutive sixes, but the spinner eventually dismissed the prized wicket of the England captain who scored a solid 80. Australia bowled out England for 237, reducing the first-innings deficit to just 26 runs.

Meanwhile, play on Day 3 of the third Ashes Test had not resumed due to rain, even four hours after schedule.

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