Despite an Australian fight back with the ball, England remains on top at stumps on day two of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston. The Australians were just 23 runs ahead at the close but have only three second innings wickets in hand with the match almost certain to finish on Friday in Birmingham. At the close Peter Nevill (37*) and Mitchell Starc (7*) were still standing with the Aussies on 168/7.
Resuming on 133/3 with Joe Root (30*) and Jonny Bairstow (1*) at the wicket, the English added just nine runs before Bairstow was caught by wicketkeeper Nevill off Mitchell Johnson. Two balls later Ben Stokes was dismissed in similar fashion without scoring. Root and Jos Buttler added 40 runs before two quick wickets fell again.
The former was first to go for 63, caught by Adam Voges off the bowling of Starc, before Buttler was a Nathan Lyon leg before wicket victim for 9 leaving the home side on 190/7. Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad proceeded to put on an eighth wicket partnership of 87 that could well prove to be decisive in the overall context of the match. Josh Hazlewood had Broad caught by Mitchell Marsh for 31 and one run later Ali was Hazlewood’s third scalp.
The all rounder contributed 59 in 103 minutes in the middle, which included 11 fours. It was all over when Starc had James Anderson caught behind by Nevill for 3 with the hosts all out for 281; an overall lead of 145. Lyon’s 3/36 was the best of the bowling figures with Hazlewood taking 3/74.
David Warner and Chris Rogers would have been determined to set matters right after a dismal first innings performance by the Baggy Greens and with so much time still left in the match, there was no reason why not. However the home bowlers had other ideas, sniffing the chance of an early victory. Broad removed Rogers lbw for 6 before Steve Smith and Warner took Australia to 62.
It was Warner doing all the hitting though as Smith’s contribution of 8 out of 45 runs ended when he edged Steven Finn to Buttler. That sparked Finn into action as the paceman removed Michael Clarke (3) and Adam Voges in successive deliveries. The 26-year old castled Marsh for 6 six overs later as the Aussies slipped from 62/1 to 92/5.
Warner’s whirlwind 77 from 62 balls was brought to an end when first innings hero Anderson had the opener caught off a leading edge by Adam Lyth at cover. The tourists had only just established a marginal lead when Finn had five dismissing Johnson, caught by Stokes, for 14. At close of play a day three finish looks all but guaranteed with the away side holding a slender advantage of 23 runs but with just three wickets in hand.