Kangaroos Dance from ‘Perth to Brisbane’ as OZs take 2-1 lead at The Lords
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Kangaroos Dance from ‘Perth to Brisbane’ as OZs take 2-1 lead at The Lords

July 5, 2023

By V.N. Prasad

Amidst a ‘Barrage’ of ‘Body Line Bowling,’ the pendulum swung from one extreme to the other at The Lords in the 2nd Test of the Ashes Series. It created all the moods that a ‘Test Match’ can provide to the Spectators, TV viewers etc; ugly & painful at times, absorbing at times, boring at times, excitement at times, disappointments at times. Eventually the Kangaroos had the last laugh as they clinched a 43 runs victory. In the history of Test Cricket, this was the only match in which Helmets were struck with vicious ‘Short Pitched’ snorters; calling for physio to check concussions in the batsmen maximum number of times. Fortunately, none was injured grievously.

Packed crowds all across the iconic Lords watched the encounter with the hope that the English would square up the series and proceed to ‘LEEDS’ with more challenges. Over a 1000 enthusiasts from Australia are in England to back the Aussies. They have NEVER won a series in England since 2001. But, much akin to a “Tennis Grand Slam”, a 2-0 can convert eventually to 3-2, between the two best cricketing teams in the world today.

Batting first on a green and hard track, David Warner (66) and Usman Khawaja (17) struggled — as the English seamers bowled beautifully. Stuart Broad, Josh Tongue and Robinson bowled with vigour and consistency; creating the typical corridor of uncertainties. Jimmy Anderson at 41 has lost the sting. But, it was “The Find of our own IPL; the chocolate faced Steven Smith” who exhibited his vintage class as he ‘Cover Drove’ and ‘Flicked off the Toes to long on’ to script his 32nd Test hundred in a master class. Undeniably, he is the best Test batsman today with an average close to 60 runs. He was well supported by Travis Head (77); known for his quick scoring and hard hitting. Total of 416 was a challenging one for the Englishmen to follow.

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Zak Crawley (48), Ollie Pope (42) and Harry Brook (50) faced barrage of sharp rising deliveries. It was Ben Duckett who stroked 98 beautifully, but missed his richly deserved hundred. Joe Root perished trying to hook a sharp rising delivery by Starc as Smith took an easy catch. For the OZs, the pace battery of Pat Cummins (1) , Mitchell Starc (3), Josh Hazlewood (2) and Cameron Green (1) used the hard deck to skittle out the Englishmen; wrapping them up for 325 as England conceded a formidable lead of 91 runs. Travis Head bowled Off Spin and took 2 wickets adding to the woes of the English.

Aussies batted in the second inning fearfully, as the English seamers ensured that the 11th yard of the deck was dug up — sending sharp rising deliveries consistently as the Aussies folded up 279 @ 2.74 — a ‘Boring’ script. Except Khawaja’s painstaking 77 off 187 deliveries, none else seemed confident in an exhibition of accurate bowling by the English. Broad took 4 wickets and Tongue and Robinson 2 apiece. Robinson and Broad were lethal. That left the Englishmen to chase 371, an imposing target.

Starc was devastating in his 1st spell as he packed off Crawley (3) and Pope (3); the delivery to Pope was a beauty that went through a tiny 4 inches of gap between bat & pad and castled the middle stump. Brook (4) was castled by Cummins. Joe Root, the best batsman of England, could not fend a rising one from Cummins and spooned a simple catch to Warner in the 1st Slip, for 18. ‘Bodyline’ bowling by the OZs was intimidating. It all looked as though the Englishmen had resigned to the rout; but were chancing an improbable chase.

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On the 5th day, all around the world anticipated a clean wrap up in the 1st session. But yet again, it was the very impressive Ben Duckett who batted beautifully to score 83, as skipper Stokes batted cautiously. He was caught behind by Alex Carey off Hazelwood; a brilliant high catch. The 132 partnership with struggling skipper Ben Stokes was eventful. Post lunch on the 5th day, ‘Hell Broke Loose’ as Stokes went ‘Hammer & Tongs’ and plundered 9 sixes and raced to a brilliant 155 off 215. He survived two chances however. Steve Smith, one of the best catchers in world cricket, dropped an easy one that he would have held 99 out of 100 times. Another one was a ‘Hard Return Catch’ by Cummins. But, a boring encounter prior to lunch was converted to a T20 show. Stokes was devastated as he skied a mishit off Hazelwood and keeper Carey took an easy catch. Rest was a formality. Young Tongue braved out to swing & smash 19 before he was castled by Starc. Englishmen folded up at 327 @ an impressive 4.01 — a very high run rate on the 5th day.

Kangaroos had the last laugh as Starc, Cummins and Hazelwood picked 3 apiece. The cricketing world thanks the OZs and the Englishmen for the entertainment amidst of one of the strangest Test match that the world has witnessed. We now keenly look forward to the 3rd one at the LEEDS; more of cricket and less of intimidation.

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