Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Summers are always exciting in this part of the world, especially in England when Ashes is played. A historical old rivalry which still has its place cemented in people’s consciousness. A sense of pride which surpass many other glories. Perhaps, an equivalent to El Clásico in football where audience forget about the points table and only concentrate on the two rivals.
As we moved to the final day of Lord’s Test, the game was evenly poised till and any result was expected given the nature of weather. Rain played no spoil sport and millions of admirers got to witness a dramatic final day - typical Australian resilience, sensational bowling, concussion outbreak, crucial drops and some magnificent innings with the bat. The second Ashes Test had it all.
Final Day’s Play
Starting the day on a positive note, Ben Stokes didn’t give away anything to the Aussies, kept chipping away runs and stretching the lead. He, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow put together useful contributions to consolidate a vital 266 runs lead. No bowling combination worked for Australia in that period.
Meanwhile, Ben Stokes yet again registered his name on the honour’s board with a fabulous hundred (115*) in third innings. Declaration came soon after. A sensible move from the English captain, Joe Root to invite Australia to bat an hour before Tea and give them a crack at the target.
Adding to Australia’s woes, Steve Smith pulled out from the remaining game due to a delayed concussion. It was declared that he wasn’t feeling okay. The medical team wanted to keep a check on his condition and carry out some tests. As of now, he is doubtful for the Headingley Test.
It was a huge blow for Australia considering his rich vein of form and a match to save on the final day. Taking immediate action, Marnus Labuschagne, a batting all-rounder who represents Queensland in the domestic circuit was added as a replacement of Steve Smith. With this move, Labuschagne became the first-ever concussion substitute in the history of International Cricket.
Moving to Australia’s Innings, Jofra Archer made an initial statement in the very 2nd over he bowled. A length ball took the outside edge of David Warner's bat and holed out to Rory Burns at gully. Jofra again struck in a similar fashion when he deceived Usman Khawaja. Australia was recovering steadily from 19/2 before Jack Leach trapped Cameron Bancroft dead for 16. Score read 47/3.
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Struggling at 47/3 and clouds of loss hovering over, Labuschagne, Steve Smith’s replacement and Travis Head, a promising young man, took charge of the situation and notched up an important 85 run partnership. Moving into the final hour of the play Australia lost a set batsmen in Labuschagne (59). Australia was thrown to the back seat, it could sense the pressure. The scorecard read 132/4.
The languid demeanour of Jofra Archer can deceive any batsmen in the world, if he’s not watching him closely. Head took the responsibility to take the maximum strike whereas England persisted with Jofra and Leach. In a span of 4 overs, Australia lost their Captain, Tim Paine and centurion at Edgbaston, Matthew Wade. Here England could very much sense a chance by wrapping up the tail.
With 4 overs remaining for the day, Jofra was taken out of the attack due to low visibility. Leach and Joe Denly finished the overs and Travis Head walked away with Pat Cummins in a dramatic draw. A sigh of relief for all the Australian fans.
With this victory Australia and England shared 8 points each in World Test Championship Table.
Brief Scorecard: England 258 (Burns 53, Bairstow 52) and 258 for 5 dec (Stokes 115*, Cummins 3-35) drew with Australia 250 (Smith 92, Broad 4-65) and 154 for 6 (Labuschagne 59, Head 42, Archer 3-32, Leach 3-37)