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Ashes PIX: Starc, Cummins put Australia on brink of victory

Last updated on: July 02, 2023 01:47 IST
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Images from Day 4 of the second Test between England and Australia at Lord's in London on Saturday.

IMAGE: Australia captain Pat Cummins, 2nd left, celebrate with team-mates after taking the wicket of Harry Brook during Day 4 of the second Ashes Test at Lord's on Saturday. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

After four days of unpredictable and head-scratching action, Australia's pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins ripped out England's top order with a masterclass of textbook bowling to put their side in sight of a 2-0 Ashes lead on Saturday.


Bounced out for 279 during a wacky afternoon of monotonous short-pitched bowling at Lord's, which left the hosts needing a daunting 371 for victory, Australia's pedigree attack reduced England to 114/4 at the close on day four of the second Test. The home side still require 257 runs to win.

Beginning their reply, England's 'Bazball' approach still offered hope that they could surpass the Lord's record 342 West Indies chased down in 1984 -- the only time a side has scored 300 plus in a fourth innings to win at the home of cricket.

IMAGE: Australia's players celebrate after Mitchell Star claimed the wicket of Zak Crawley. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

But Starc and Cummins served up a harsh reality to leave England's hopes of regaining the Ashes hanging by a thread.

Starc, who shared a truly bizarre 10th-wicket stand of 15 runs with a hobbling Nathan Lyon before tea, removed Zak Crawley for three as the opener feathered a flick down the leg side straight to keeper Alex Carey.

The 33-year-old then cleaned up Ollie Pope's middle stump with a sensational ball that veered in after pitching outside off stump to leave England tottering on 13/2.

IMAGE: Nathan Lyon struggles with his injury as he tries to take a run. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Skipper Cummins then roared in to have Joe Root (18) snared at first slip by David Warner, fending off a brutal rising ball having been smashed on the arm the ball before.

Three balls later Cummins bowled Harry Brook for four with another beauty as England tumbled to 45/4 and with the very real possibility looming of the game being over a day early.

IMAGE: England's Ollie Robinson celebrates with Josh Tongue after taking the wicket of Australia's Cameron Green. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

But England opener Ben Duckett backed up his first innings' 98 with an unbeaten 50 with captain Ben Stokes, in pain after bowling 12 overs straight during a post-lunch stalemate, on 29.

Duckett had a huge let-off before stumps when he was brilliantly caught by a diving Starc on the fine leg boundary off Cameron Green's bowling.

However, having almost reached the pavilion, Duckett was sent back as video replays showed that Starc had not had 'complete control of body and ball' prompting boos from Australia's fans and chuntering from the players.

IMAGE: Rehan Ahmed saves a six from Mitchell Starc. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Stokes scored 135 not out when England chased down 359 to beat Australia at Headingley in 2019 and his side will need something equally unforgettable on Sunday to avoid a second successive defeat after a thrilling loss at Edgbaston.

Only once in Ashes history has a team won a series from 2-0 down -- a Don Bradman-inspired Australia in 1936-37.

Despite England's precarious position and their long tail, batting coach Marcus Trescothick insisted the match was still finely balanced.

"We've got a big job to do. We didn't want to lose the wickets at the top order but we faced some beautiful balls, it's not out of the question yet," he said.

IMAGE: Stuart Broad celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Travis Head. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Earlier, Australia began in command on 130/2 for a lead of 221, England's ever-reliable Stuart Broad took four wickets as the visitors were frustrated out by England's barrage of bouncers, a tactic that was hard to watch but effective.

Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith had taken the lead towards 300 but were out for 77 and 34 respectively, Khawaja caught at deep fine leg by substitute fielder Matthew Potts after top-edging a hook off Broad and Smith casually swatting a Josh Tongue bouncer straight to Crawley at square leg.

When Travis Head went cheaply, caught at short leg by Root off a rising Broad delivery, England were in the game.

Bowling bouncer after bouncer to a leg-side field, Australia ground to a halt after lunch with 17 runs coming off 13 overs at one point, and their patience snapped.

IMAGE: England pacer Josh Tongue, right, celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Steve Smith. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Cameron Green (18) was caught on the square leg boundary by Duckett hooking an Ollie Robinson bumper and Alex Carey (21) popped up a Robinson delivery to Root at short leg.

Cummins was caught in the gully by Duckett fending off a well-directed Broad ball and Stokes was rewarded for a back-breaking spell with the wicket of Josh Hazlewood.

IMAGE: Joe Root speaks to Nathan Lyon ahead of start of Day 4. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Lyon, who tore his calf on Thursday, then hobbled to the crease, and courageously withstood a barrage, comically hopping down the wicket to complete one single.

With Lyon immobile, Australia's only option was to hit boundaries and Starc smeared a six and Lyon a four before Broad ended his misery.

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