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Ashes Heroics: Lyon’s limping brilliance and Starc’s resilience shine in Lord’s Test

Australia is on the verge of a 2-0 lead in the Ashes, needing just six wickets to secure victory after an enthralling and occasionally bizarre day of Test cricket at Lord’s.

In pursuit of a record target of 371 runs, England struggled to reach 114-4 by the end of day four. Captain Ben Stokes (29*) and opener Ben Duckett (50*) remained unbeaten overnight.

During an exhilarating assault after tea, Australian captain Pat Cummins and recalled fast bowler Mitchell Starc each claimed two wickets, causing England to lose four wickets for just 36 runs. However, Duckett, who had been dropped on zero in the first over, launched a counterattack to give the hosts a glimmer of hope.

Controversy struck late in the day when a catch by Starc was ruled not out, much to the frustration of the Australians, granting Duckett a significant reprieve.

Earlier in the day, England’s fast bowlers bombarded Australia’s middle-order with a barrage of bouncers, resulting in the visitors collapsing to 279 all out after losing 8 wickets for just 92 runs in 40 overs. However, the injured Nathan Lyon stole the show by limping out to bat at number 11 and forming a dramatic 15-run partnership with Starc, a moment that will be remembered in Ashes folklore.

England now faces the daunting task of scoring another 257 runs for an unlikely victory, which would be the highest successful run chase in Test history at Lord’s.

There were some missed opportunities in Australia’s innings. Travis Head should have been dismissed without scoring, but a straightforward chance was dropped by Anderson at point, denying Josh Tongue a second wicket. However, Tongue did claim the wicket of Steve Smith on the next delivery, as the Australian batsman top-edged a pull shot to deep square leg, departing for 34. Suddenly, there were two new batsmen at the crease, and England sensed an opportunity.

The bumper delivery strategy claimed another victim in the 68th over, as Head fended a well-directed bouncer from Stuart Broad to short-leg fielder Joe Root, who took a remarkable one-handed catch to his left. With a dramatic passage of play, Australia had lost three wickets for just ten runs, reigniting the crowd at Lord’s.

After the lunch break, Alex Carey and Cameron Green stabilised Australia‘s innings, scoring 16 runs in an uneventful afternoon session while England’s bowlers continued to bowl bouncers. Stokes delivered a brutal rising delivery that struck Green, causing a break in play as medical personnel conducted a concussion test. A couple of overs later, Green attempted to take on a chest-high bouncer from Ollie Robinson and was caught by Duckett at deep square leg, ending their partnership at 42 runs.

In Robinson’s next over, Carey gloved a short ball towards Root at short leg, departing for 21 runs.

Stokes, in his tenth over of a lengthy spell, appeared to have dismissed Cummins for 8 runs when the Australian captain was caught at point. However, Stokes was called back for a front-foot no-ball, nullifying the dismissal. Cummins couldn’t capitalise on the reprieve and fell to Broad for 11 runs when a bouncer struck the shoulder of his bat and looped towards gully.

The following over saw Josh Hazlewood dismissed for 1 run, becoming Stokes’ first victim of the match. Injured Lyon then limped out to bat at number 11 and contributed to a tenth-wicket partnership of 15 runs with Starc before Broad wrapped up the Australian innings.

England’s run chase started with a stroke of luck as Green dropped a difficult chance at gully, denying Starc an early wicket and giving Duckett an extra life on zero.

READ: Ashes 2nd Test Betting Preview, Betting Tips & Odds: England vs Australia

However, Starc didn’t have to wait long for his first breakthrough. In his next over, he dismissed England opener Zak Crawley for 3 runs when the batsman edged a loose delivery down the leg side, and Carey took an excellent catch to his left. This dismissal moved Starc ahead of Mitchell Johnson on the all-time Test wicket tally.

Starc appeared to have taken another wicket in the same over when an exceptional delivery swung past Duckett’s defenses and hit him on the pads, resulting in umpire Chris Gaffaney raising his finger. However, the decision was overturned after a review showed the ball narrowly missing the off stump according to Hawkeye.

A few minutes later, Starc struck again, this time clean bowling Ollie Pope for 3 runs, hitting the middle stump. England vice-captain Joe Root fell victim to a brilliant delivery from Cummins that caught the edge of his bat and was caught by David Warner at first slip.

Cummins continued his demolition by dismissing Harry Brook three deliveries later, with the ball beating the right-hander’s bat and crashing into the off stump.

Stokes and Duckett then partnered to revive England’s innings, halting the fall of wickets and combining for an unbeaten 69-run stand for the fifth wicket. In an intense moment, Green almost broke the partnership with a fierce bouncer to Stokes, but the ball miraculously landed between three converging fielders at silly mid-off.

Duckett reached his fifty, his second of the match, in just 62 deliveries. However, it appeared that his gritty innings had come to an end when he played a bouncer from Green over the wicketkeeper’s head, and Starc claimed a catch near the boundary rope.

In a dramatic turn of events, Duckett was called back to the crease after the third umpire, Marais Erasmus, determined that Starc had not taken a clean catch. Replays showed that the ball had slid along the turf during the catching attempt.

It was fitting that such a tumultuous day of Test cricket ended in controversy. The top cricket betting sites do not have much hope for England as Australia have now moved into -714.29 as we move into day 5 of game 2 of the 2023 Ashes series.

Australia to win


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