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Dhaka Tribune

Australia edge ahead of England on day two

Australia were eventually bowled out with what became the last ball of the 2nd day for 295, 12 runs ahead of England's 283

Update : 28 Jul 2023, 11:58 PM

Steve Smith's 71 helped Australia recover from a batting collapse as the tourists frustrated England by establishing a first-innings lead in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval Friday.

Australia were eventually bowled out with what became the last ball of the second day for 295, 12 runs ahead of England's 283.

It looked as if England would enjoy a sizeable advantage as veteran seamer Stuart Broad sparked a slump that saw Australia decline from 115/2 to 185/7.

But Smith and Australia captain Pat Cummins (36) kept England at bay with an eighth-wicket stand of 54.

And off-spinner Todd Murphy - recalled to the side following last week's rain-marred drawn third Test at Old Trafford - added to England's woes with a sparkling 34 that belied his position of No 10.

Cummins eventually holed out off part-time spinner Joe Root, with rival skipper Ben Stokes throwing the ball back in over the rope at long-on to complete a fine catch.

Australia, as the holders, are assured of retaining the Ashes at 2-1 up, and only need to avoid defeat at The Oval to secure their first Test series win away to England in 22 years.

The tourists resumed Friday on 61/1, with Usman Khawaja 26 not out and Marnus Labuschagne, fresh from his hundred at Old Trafford, unbeaten on two.

Australia's position in the series means they have no need to replicate England's risky “Bazball” batting approach.

But they arguably veered too much in the opposite direction during an attritional morning session, scoring just 54 runs in 26 overs for the loss of Labuschagne.

The No 3 himself took a further 59 balls to score just seven more runs before edging express fast bowler Mark Wood, with Root holding a brilliant one-handed catch diving to his left at first slip.

Smith upped the tempo with two superb straight-driven fours off successive Anderson deliveries and at lunch Australia were 115/2.

But Broad, whose 167-Test career has been notable for dramatic wicket-taking bursts, soon reduced Australia to 127/4.

He had Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the series, lbw with a full-length delivery that ended a stay of 157 balls despite the batsman's review.

Broad, who had made his name in Ashes cricket with a return of 5/37 at The Oval in 2009, became the first Englishman to take 150 Test wickets against Australia.

That rose to 151 wickets when Travis Head was caught behind off an excellent delivery that nipped away off the seam.

England were a bowler light Friday as Moeen Ali remained off the field with the groin injury the off-spinner suffered while batting Thursday.

But Root filled the gap when induced an ugly swipe from Alex Carey that went straight to Stokes at short cover.

Australia were 185/7 when Mitchell Starc holed out to backward square leg off Wood.

Smith had made 43 when, going for a needless second run, it appeared he had been beaten by a throw from substitute fielder George Ealham - the son of former England all-rounder Mark Ealham - to wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow. 

But third umpire Niton Menon, after several minutes' study, ruled in the batsman's favor, with replays suggesting neither bail had been fully removed from its groove before Smith had made his ground.

England took the new ball but Smith completed a 98-ball fifty when he drove Broad for a fine boundary

It looked as if the former Australia captain, whose four previous Tests at The Oval had yielded three hundreds, might go on to three figure again until he carelessly skied a catch off Chris Woakes to Bairstow.

Murphy, however, pulled Wood for three fine sixes, with the left-handed batsman also square-driving Woakes for a stylish four.

Woakes eventually had the 22-year old, in only his 14th first-class match, lbw but the damage had been done.


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