Australia battled bad luck and watched England opener Rory Burns score a defiant century as the hosts took control of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Burns batted through all of day two to finish Saturday morning (AEST) on 125 not out as England moved to 4-267, now trailing by just 17 runs.
The centurion would have been dismissed on 21 had Australia reviewed a close lbw call off the bowling of Nathan Lyon and the left-hander made the tourists pay with a gritty and important innings.
Burns played and missed on countless occasions, too, and Australia’s fortune was summed up when a James Pattinson delivery hit Joe Root’s off stump but somehow failed to dislodge the bails with the England captain on nine.
Root went on to make 57, combining for a 132-run partnership with Burns on another day marred by a succession of poor umpiring decisions.
Pattinson (2-54) was Australia’s best bowler while Peter Siddle toiled all day, finishing with 1-43 off 21 overs.
Lyon beat the bat on a regular basis and did not deserve to finish with figures of 0-79 but Pat Cummins (1-65) failed to have his usual impact.
Pattinson looked sharp in the early stages and took his first Test wicket since 2016 when Jason Roy (10) edged to Steve Smith at second slip.
Lyon was thrown the ball for the 13th over and his first ball turned sharply in what Australia hoped was a sign of things to come.
Just two overs later, the off-spinner trapped Burns in front and a big appeal followed.
Australia decided not to review the not out decision, though, a call that cost it Burns’ wicket.
— Alex Terrell (@alxterrell) August 2, 2019
Then came Root’s stroke of luck, which also involved an incorrect decision.
Root was initially given out caught behind off the controversial Pattinson delivery and the skipper immediately reviewed the call.
Root knew he did not hit it but surely was unaware how close he came to losing his wicket, Pattinson’s delivery hitting the off-stump but not removing the bails.
“That delivery from Pattinson has hit the off peg fairly hard,” Australia legend Mark Waugh said on Twitter, while Jofra Archer, in England’s squad, simply posted: “Wow”.
Burns and Root continued to scrap, though, and while it was far from fluent, at least initially, it was effective.
The pair batted for more than 42 overs and with the scoreboard gradually ticking over, Australia captain Tim Paine was a relieved man when Siddle ended Root’s stay with a sharp return catch in his follow through.
With the ball changed after falling out of shape, Pattinson came back into the attack to trap Joe Denly (18) in front and Cummins then added the wicket of Jos Buttler for just five, superbly caught by Cameron Bancroft at third slip.
But England moved from 4-194 to 4-267 as Burns, in his groove, and Stokes got together to ensure the home crowd had plenty to sing out about in the final stages.
Like Smith on day one, Burns showed that with fight and grit, runs are more than gettable on this Edgbaston wicket.
“It was awesome,” he told Sky Sports.
“It was a really good experience with that stand rocking and this place going. It was quite something.
“There was something there all day, a slow pitch so sticky seam, difficult at times but wait long enough and you get something in your area.”
Burns was also excellent through the covers and down the ground, his milestone lifting home spirits ahead of what seems like a Test-defining day three.
Early wickets will be crucial for Australia, who will have use of a second new ball just nine overs old.