x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Australia fight back at Lord's

Four wickets after tea leaves the second Test in the balance with England on 364 for six at stumps.

Andrew Strauss plays a shot as England opt to bat first against Australia in the second Test at Lord's after winning the toss.
Andrew Strauss plays a shot as England opt to bat first against Australia in the second Test at Lord's after winning the toss.

Australia mounted a recovery after tea of the first day of the second Ashes Test at Lord's. England were on 364 for six at the close of play with the captain Andrew Strauss unbeaten on 161, but it was the loss of four wickets at the other end that allowed the tourists to claw their way back into the game. Kevin Pietersen (32) was the first wicket of the third session to go when he nicked Peter Siddle delivery to the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Then wickets tumbled as Paul Collingwood gave his wicket away to the part-time bowling of Michael Clarke when he chipped to Siddle at mid-on for 16. Matthew Prior (8) hit two boundaries before Mitchell Johnson managed to find some inswing and bowled the England No 6 on his off-stump. Andrew Flintoff received a warm applause as he plays his final Test at the home of cricket. He was off the mark with a boundary through midwicket but he too fell cheaply, edging to Ricky Ponting at slip for four off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus. Strauss steadied the ship, adding 61 runs in the session with Stuart Broad surviving the new ball on seven. Strauss reached his 18th Test century just before tea. The captain and his opening partner Alastair Cook continued their onslaught from the morning session as the Australia captain Ponting struggled to juggle his bowling attack around in the absence of off-spinner Nathan Haurtiz who dislocated his spinning finger after dropping a catch. This allowed Cook to be a whisker away from a century of his own as he punished the bit-part bowling of Marcus North and the tiring Siddle. However on 95, Johnson was called back into the attack and trapped the left-hander lbw. Ravi Bopara forged a brisk partnership with Strauss before he was trapped lbw by Hilfenhaus for 18. Pietersen closed out the afternoon session as Strauss pillaged the Australian attack for 15 boundaries on his way to a 178-ball century. Pietersen, on 22 at tea, had a few scares. Firstly he tried catch a ball that he top-edged into the air. Then Hilfenhaus bowled a beautiful bouncer at the batsman the next ball which he top-edged to safety. In the meantime Strauss was composed at the other end and brought up his 100 scoring three to the point boundary just before tea. Earlier, Johnson had conceded 53 from his eight overs in the morning session, as Cook reached his half-century with his 11th boundary to emphasise Australia's lack of control. Cook had scored 14 boundaries at the break having faced 95 balls. Johnson conceded four boundaries in six balls at one point as Strauss punished the left-arm paceman for bowling offline. Two of the fours were square cut from short, wide deliveries and the others were clipped off his legs through midwicket. His first four-over spell cost 26 Australia runs before he was replaced by Siddle at the Pavilion End. One rare moment of danger for England came when Cook edged the more impressive Hilfenhaus towards Ponting at second slip in the seventh over but the Australian captain could not get a hand on the ball, which sped to the third man boundary. When Johnson changed to the Nursery End the results were the same. His first two balls were short and wide, which Cook hammered through cover for boundaries. Johnson, with head bowed and shoulders drooping, looked a man low on confidence. Ponting kept faith with Johnson but he conceded two more boundaries in his seventh over to have conceded 47 runs. Conversely, Hilfenhaus allowed 16 from his first nine, with six maidens. Johnson still bowled an eighth to show Ponting's lack of options. Andrew Flintoff earlier passed a fitness test after pain in his right knee to play his final Lord's Test after announcing Wednesday this will be his last Test series because of his injury struggles. England, seeking to regain the Ashes they surrendered so easily in 2006-07, drew the first Test which ended on Sunday. They have not beaten Australia in an Ashes Test at Lord's for 75 years.

*AP