When it mattered the most for England, captain Ben Stokes dished out yet another heroic and stunning 155 in the pursuit of chasing 371. But it was not enough for the hosts to avoid a 43-run loss to Australia on a thrilling fifth and final day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Sunday.
Resuming the final day on 114/4, Stokes and Ben Duckett (83) added a further 63 runs before the former fell to Josh Hazlewood just after the first hour of the morning session was over.
Jonny Bairstow was run-out in controversial circumstances for 10, as wicketkeeper Alex Carey threw the ball at the stumps after the batter wandered out of the crease while avoiding a bouncer, leaving England at 193/6, with the crowd booing Australia and some confrontational scenes happening in Long Room at lunch break.
In between, Stokes went for an ultra-attacking approach with the bat, reaching his century with three scintillating sixes and paving the path for another great escape for England by hitting nine fours and as many maximums.
As Stokes marched forward in his onslaught, Australia, minus Nathan Lyon’s bowling, were having flashbacks of Headingley 2019 coming true at Lord’s 2023. But once Stokes fell to Hazlewood and his 108-run stand with Stuart Broad came to an end, Australia were able to bowl out England for 327 in 81.3 to go 2-0 up in the five-game series.
For England, what came back to hit them hard was allowing Australia to get too many runs in the first innings after electing to bowl first and then throwing away too many wickets in their first essay while looking to attack the short ball, giving the visitors a 91-run lead.
They now must win the third Test at Headingley, starting from Thursday, otherwise, they won’t be able to regain the Ashes.
Earlier on Sunday morning, Stokes and Ben Duckett resumed from where they had left off, nurdling the ball around and getting on top of the bounce.
The Australians persisted with the short-ball ploy without much success early in the session. Stokes survived an lbw review off Mitchell Starc’s sharp yorker and his century stand with Duckett was up soon.
Just as England seemed to be on course to push Australia into panic mode, Hazlewood struck by finding Duckett’s top edge as the batter tried to pull off a short ball. Bairstow joined Stokes in the middle as the visitors continue to barrage them with short balls.
However, the wicket came in highly-unexpected fashion when Bairstow wandered outside the crease after leaving a delivery, with an alert Carey throwing down the stumps to catch the England batter well short.
Post the bizarre dismissal, Stokes began to tee off, taking on the short ball with relentless pulls through the leg side. In the 54th over, he smashed Cameron Green for three fours, all off pull shots, and treated him to another four followed by a hat-trick of sixes in his next over to reach his hundred in quite dramatic fashion, with Stokes celebrating in subdued fashion.
Broad held his end firm as Stokes continued to flay the Aussie attack. What appeared to be well outside England’s reach suddenly seemed possible with the skipper’s unrelenting onslaught.
Two sixes came in the 60th over bowled by Hazlewood and two more followed in the 65th over from Mitchell Starc with the left-arm seamer resorting to T20 tactics to outfox Stokes. The duo soon brought up the century stand at more than run-a-ball, with Broad contributing only 11 runs to it at that point in time.
Stokes, targeting bowlers from only one end to evade the deep fielders, raced past 150, but Headingley 2019 was not to be repeated at Lord’s as Hazlewood eventually bounced Stokes out -– the batter edging one to the keeper off a short delivery and departing for 155.
The rest of the line-up hung around for a while, but Starc sent Josh Tongue back with a searing yorker and uprooted his leg-stump to hand Australia a memorable win and a 2-0 lead in the series after two Tests.
Australia 416 & beat England 325 & 327 in 81.3 overs (Ben Stokes 155, Ben Duckett 83; Pat Cummins 3-69, Mitchell Starc 3-79) by 43 runs