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Injured Lyon inspires Australia by batting in 2nd Ashes test at Lord’s

A masterclass of pace bowling put Australia on course to go 2-0 up in the Ashes after an England team chasing 371 runs to win was reduced to 114-4 in the second test at Lord’s on Saturday.

Australia thought it had a fifth wicket 13 minutes before stumps when Mitchell Starc caught Ben Duckett’s ramp on the fine leg boundary. Starc made the moving catch on his knees but scraped the ball along the ground to slow his skid. That lack of control made the third umpire decide it wasn’t a clean catch.

Duckett was unbeaten on 50 after he also was almost caught in the first over, and captain Ben Stokes on 29. They rescued England from 45-4 to trail by 257 at stumps.

On an extraordinary fourth day, an injured Nathan Lyon batted in obvious pain for an Australia team struggling to score against a barrage of bouncers, and the tailender helped add 15 runs for the last wicket and pad their lead to 370.

England has successfully chased 371 or more only once in test history, a year ago at Edgbaston against India. But it has never chased so many at Lord’s and it looked increasingly unlikely in front of an audience including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Princes William and George as Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins ripped out the top order.

Zac Crawley was out for 3 in the third over when he feathered an edge off Starc into the safe hands of diving wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

Ollie Pope also went for 3 in the fifth when he was beaten inside by Starc and his middle stump was slammed by an 89 mph (143 kph) inswinger.

Joe Root expertly turned a couple of boundaries off Josh Hazlewood but on 18 he jumped to fend a face-high riser up the slope from Cummins and edged to David Warner at first slip.

Cummins saved an even better delivery in the same over for Harry Brook, whose off stump he knocked for 4.

Duckett was dropped off Starc in the first over by a fully stretched Cameron Green. After 98 in the first innings, Duckett is the first England opener to score two half-centuries in the same match at Lord’s in 30 years. He and Stokes fashioned an unbroken stand of 69.

England started the day bowling for a fourth consecutive day and Australia leading by a healthy 221 runs and only two wickets down.

Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith were so comfortable, Australia seemed to be heading towards a declaration. That was until mid-morning when Smith hit three boundaries in one over off James Anderson.

In the next over, England began bowling short and strangled the run rate. England set the trap with up to eight fielders square and behind, and Australia stepped in it; all eight wickets fell for a labored 92 runs in 40 overs.

In the space of five balls, Khawaja top-edged Stuart Broad to fine leg on 77, and Smith steered Josh Tongue to deep backward square on 34 and knew it was bad before Crawley made the catch. Nobody else scored more than 21 on Saturday.

The 1.98-meter (6-foot-6) Cameron Green and Carey resisted the urge to pull or hook for nearly two hours through lunch and the game was at a dull stalemate.

Green lost patience first. He and Carey were taken out by Ollie Robinson. In his nine-over spell from lunch, Robinson got 2-7.

Stokes bowled 12 straight overs from lunch for 1-26, and Root took three catches at short leg in the innings for 178 in his career. Root broke a tie with Alastair Cook for the most outfield catches in England test history.

Broad’s 4-65 gave him 142 Ashes wickets, the third most ever. Only Shane Warne (195) and Glenn McGrath (157) have more.

Lyon suffered a “significant” right calf strain in the field late Thursday and has needed crutches. He wasn’t expected to play any further part in the match, but he appeared as the last batter and hobbled on to the field to a standing ovation.

He ran a single for Starc in obvious pain and pulled a boundary against Broad through a stacked field. He was the last man out defending a short ball from Broad after a lionhearted half-hour, and limped off to another ovation.

Report by Saif R Siddiqui

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