Sport Cricket More frustrating rain puts Lord’s draw on the cards

More frustrating rain puts Lord’s draw on the cards

England's Jofra Archer celebrates dismissing Cameron Bancroft on day three of the 2nd Ashes Test. Photo: Getty
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Australia slumped to 4-80 before more rain hit the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, with just 24.1 overs played on a frustrating day three.

The tourists may trail England by 178 runs with six wickets remaining in its first innings but with just two days of play remaining, a result is now extremely unlikely, even if the forecast suggests the remainder of the Test will be uninterrupted by weather.

Steve Smith, fresh off twin centuries in the series opener at Edgbaston, will resume day four on 13 not out but surely even Smith cannot lead his side to victory from here.

And if he falls cheaply, England might head into its second innings with a healthy lead given the first innings total of 258 it compiled on day two.

Australia resumed at 1-30 and were greeted by overcast weather, conditions perfect for swing bowling.

But England captain Joe Root sprung a surprise when he decided not to pair Stuart Broad with Chris Woakes from the start, instead preferring to use debutant Jofra Archer.

And when Woakes was introduced, Usman Khawaja (36) hit him for three fours in his first over as Australia started promisingly.

Archer, who perhaps bowled too short at the start of his spell, soon produced, trapping Cameron Bancroft lbw for 13 with a ball that nipped back sharply off the seam.

Bancroft reviewed the decision and was given out on umpire’s call, giving Archer his first Test wicket.

And the strike buoyed England, with Woakes dismissing Khawaja just three balls later, caught behind.

That brought Smith and Travis Head (7) together and the going was extremely difficult as England bowled good lengths and kept things tight.

Head was given a reprieve by umpire Aleem Dar when Broad trapped him on the pads but England were quick to review the decision – and rightly so.

Television replays showed Head was plumb and he had to depart as Australia had lost 3-11 in 7.2 overs.

Smith, leaving the ball in even more exaggerated style, was patient, though, taking 40 deliveries to score 13 runs in a bid to stem England’s momentum.

And Wade followed suit, not scoring a run from 23 balls. The left-hander was given out in his stay, but successfully reviewed an lbw decision off the bowling of Ben Stokes.

And the drizzle that the pair were batting in soon became too thick, forcing players off the field around five minutes before lunch.

The rain set in, too, and even when it eased later in the day, it was still too much for play to resume, with day three eventually abandoned at 5.25pm (local time).

England will hope for quick wickets on day four in a bid to snatch an unlikely victory, while Australia’s only chance of doing the remarkable looks to be scoring more than 400 and then putting pressure on with the ball.

A draw is, of course, far more likely, a result that would give Australia a 1-0 lead after two Tests in the five-match series.

And given Australia only needs to draw the series to retain cricket’s famous urn, that would mean England would have to win two of the three remaining Tests to win the Ashes.