Thursday 23 January 2020

Stokes ton but Aussies save Test

CENTURY: Ben Stokes. Pic: Getty
CENTURY: Ben Stokes. Pic: Getty

Jofra Archer, Jack Leach and Ben Stokes shared the starring roles as England's fifth-day victory charge came up four wickets short in a drawn second Ashes Test at Lord's yesterday.

Stokes hit 115 not out - his first ton in two years - to set up the declaration, with the ferocious pace of debutant Archer and the nagging left-arm spin of Leach piling the pressure on Australia in a tense finale.

The tourists, without key man Steve Smith due to concussion caused by a vicious Archer bouncer, finished on 154-6 under failing light just before 7.30pm.

Stokes played wonderfully for his seventh Test hundred, allowing skipper Joe Root the luxury of declaring 266 ahead with 48 overs left.

Stokes said: "It is nice to get a hundred. We fought incredibly hard to get the win. Fair play to Australia for holding out.''

Archer once again provided the adrenaline, rattling bodies, rapping helmets and taking three wickets to cap a remarkable first appearance, while Leach proved a brilliant foil with three of his own. Root paid tribute to paceman Archer saying: "What an impact he has made already, the way he went about his business, 96mph in his 27th over.

''I can see him causing a lot of problems for a lot of batsmen throughout the world."

Stokes was also fulsome on Archer. "It is brilliant to have someone like that in the team,'' he said.

''He bowled a nine-over spell at 90mph-plus. It was frightening.

''I would much rather have him on our side. He has announced himself on the world stage in a different form and the sky is the limit for that kid."

Australia retained their 1-0 series lead courtesy of Smith's concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne, who made 59, and Travis Head, who finished 42 not out but was badly dropped by Jason Roy earlier.

Day four ended with all four results possible, but rain delayed the start by 70 minutes, shaving 10 crucial overs off a contest that had already lost five full sessions.

By the time England declared just before 3.30pm they had effectively taken an Australia win off the table.

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