Thursday, 2 December 2021

Lord’s Test ends in a draw despite Stokes’ century


LONDON: Ben Stokes recorded a fantastic century on day five at Lord’s, but his efforts were not enough to push England to victory in the second Test.

The draw means Australia maintain their 1-0 lead, and the home side now require victory at Headingley in the third bout to maintain a chance of winning the series. A battling effort from Travis Head (42*) and Marnus Labuschagne (59) ensured honours were even for this one, the pair quelling the threat of Archer and co with some impressive, diligent batting. A late wobble almost looked perilous for Tim Paine’s side, but England were four scalps short at the finish.

Stokes and Jos Buttler began day five well, adding to their side’s overnight score of 96/4 with a sensible approach early in the day. England’s Cricket World Cup final hero then began to accelerate after having reached his half-century in a more measured manner, while Buttler fell for 31, top-edging Cummins to long-leg. It was an innings of real determination and class from England’s all-rounder, the 28-year old blasting 11 fours and three maximums on the way to an impressive seventh Test hundred.

Nathan Lyon received some brutal treatment, Stokes smearing him for consecutive sixes over mid-wicket along the way, and Australia’s spinner reached three figures of his own, going wicketless from his 26 overs at the expense of 102 runs.

Bairstow chipped in with a decent 37-ball 30 before Joe Root called for the declaration (258/5) with Stokes unbeaten on 115, setting the away side an unlikely 267 to win. The absence of their injured star batsman Steve Smith was also of note, as Labuschagne replaced him in Test cricket’s first ever concussion substitution. The rule, which changed on 1 August, means that the player who is brought in can bat and bowl in the match.

The tourists, who had 48 overs to endure to avoid defeat, made a shaky start to their second innings. David Warner’s poor Test form continued, the left-hander notching his fourth single-figure score in as many innings when Archer (3/32) had him nicking off to the slips in the fourth over.

Usman Khawaja then followed suit, edging behind to gift Test debutant Archer a second scalp, and England fans, buoyed by the impact of their new, exciting fast-bowling sensation, started to believe that they were in with a chance of victory. Cameron Bancroft departed via an lbw from Jack Leach soon after, leaving the Aussies flailing on 47/3. Marnus Labuschagne dug in though, soaking up 100 deliveries for his 59 and forming a stoic partnership with Travis Head, who was dropped in the slips on 22 by Jason Roy, denying Stokes his first wicket.

The Aussies survived a late barrage from the England attack, and spirits in the field were lifted once again following Leach’s (3/37) dismissal of Labuschagne. Matthew Wade followed soon after as Leach cashed in again, and Paine became Archer’s third victim to a stunning diving grab at mid-wicket from Joe Denly, leaving Head with all of the responsibility out in the middle.

He ushered his side through to a draw though with the help of Pat Cummins, Joe Root’s men just four wickets short of victory.

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