England fight back with three first-session wickets in second Ashes Test

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  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)

England’s bowlers rallied on the second afternoon of the day/night Ashes Test, beating their day one wicket tally with three successes in the first session at Adelaide Oval.

The touring attack toiled away as their rivals racked up 221 for two on Thursday, but got some much-needed rewards in stifling conditions and 37 degree heat.

Ollie Robinson bounced back from a no-ball howler to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne for 103, Joe Root cleaned up the in-form Travis Head for 18 and Ben Stokes outgunned fellow all-rounder Cameron Green to drag back some of the lost momentum.

Ollie Robinson celebrates the wicket of Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne
Ollie Robinson celebrates the wicket of Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Having been badly dropped twice by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler on day one of the second Ashes Test, Labuschagne resumed on 95 and soon reached three figures, steering a thick edge off James Anderson to the third-man boundary for his sixth Test match hundred and third in a pink-ball match.

It was an unusually scrappy hundred by the number three’s high standards but his resolve in knuckling down for a 287-ball century could yet prove crucial to the outcome.

England, and Buttler, finally thought they had him for 102 when he nicked Robinson’s first delivery of the afternoon behind and he was already well on his way to the pavilion when England’s worst nightmares were realised. Just as Stokes had done against David Warner at a key moment in the first Test, Robinson had overstepped the line, paying the price for sloppy footwork as Labuschagne was called back to the middle.

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his century
Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his century (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Robinson could have been rattled – particularly when he failed to take a half-chance off Stuart Broad at square leg – but instead he rallied to see off Labuschagne just a few minutes, and one run, later.

Despite spending over six hours at the crease, he never quite seemed in control and he was bang to rights when he offered no shot at one that shaped in and thumped his pad in front of the stumps. Robinson reacted with both joy and relief and continued to ask questions of Steve Smith and Head in a six-over spell that cost him just seven runs.

When he departed, Stokes entered the fray and continued his day one policy of hammering out a sustained period of short bowling that caused some awkwardness but plenty of scoring options. Smith reached his half-century with a mis-timed overhead smash that flew over Buttler’s head for four.

Head, player of the match for his 152 in Brisbane, looked to assert himself with some positive shots on his way to 18 but was a little too ambitious. Immediately after launching Root’s off-spin back down the ground for four, he went for another big shot and got his feet in a tangle as the ball snuck through into his stumps.

Green lasted only five balls, Stokes briefly abandoning his barrage of bumpers for a more direct threat. Pitching one full and finding a scrap of seam movement, he beat Green’s tentative push and took out his off stump.

England had taken 81 for three in the session, a tangible turnaround after their flat showing the night before.

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