Sport Cricket Australia takes another two wickets before lunch to move closer to regaining Ashes

Australia takes another two wickets before lunch to move closer to regaining Ashes

England all-rounder Ben Stokes walks after being dismissed by Pat Cummins on day five at Old Trafford on Sunday. Photo: Getty
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Pat Cummins put Australia on track for an Ashes-retaining victory at Old Trafford, where Ben Stokes walked as England wobbled to 4-87 at lunch on day five of the fourth Test.

The hosts, having entered survival mode after being set a victory target of 383, resumed at 2-18 on Sunday after Cummins blasted out Rory Burns and Joe Root late on day four with consecutive balls.

Jason Roy and Joe Denly negotiated the opening hour without incident before a late decision from Tim Paine to hand the ball to Cummins proved a masterstroke.

Mitchell Starc was at the top of his mark and ready to deliver the 25th over of the innings when Paine asked Cummins to start his second spell of the day.

The world’s top-ranked bowler needed six balls to uproot Roy’s off stump, bursting through a gap between the out-of-form Englishman’s bat and pad.

Stokes, who broke the hearts of Paine’s team at Headingley with an astonishing knock that carried England to a record-breaking victory, loomed as the most-imposing roadblock in Australia’s pursuit of a 2-1 series lead.

The all-rounder’s resistance lasted 17 deliveries on this occasion.

A pinpoint delivery on an awkward length from the leading wicket-taker in the series did the job, with Stokes’ attempt to leave coming too late as an inside edge careened to the right of Paine.

Paine did well to hold the low catch.

Umpire Marais Erasmus was initially unmoved by Cummins’ appeal but Stokes trudged off before Australia had a chance to review.

Manchester’s weather is notoriously fickle but there is no rain forecast for Sunday’s final two sessions.

“It will be difficult,” Steve Smith said after day four, when asked about England’s hopes of batting through the final day.

“My first 20 or 30 balls, I felt pretty vulnerable when they were bowling that good length.”

Nathan Lyon, who has taken five scalps since bowling Australia to a series-opening victory at Edgbaston, remains wicketless in the match. But the off-spinner created a sharp chance when Denly was on 35.

Denly was 48 not out at lunch, when Cummins boasted the figures of 4-23 from 11 overs.

Roy, whose 31 represented his highest score of the series, raged at himself as he stormed off – slapping an esky with his bat as he crossed the boundary.

Australia hasn’t retained the urn in England since 2001 but none of those squads had a batsman of Smith’s calibre.

Smith extinguished an England fightback on day four in yet another incredible innings, scoring a quick-fire 82 that prompted Paine to declare at 6-186.

Australia’s best batsman since Don Bradman backed up his first-innings 211 in style, performing a few more party tricks while rescuing his team for the umpteenth time in a career that had gone to another level this series.


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