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Labuschagne and Smith bolster Australia’s hold on the second Test.

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Labuschagne and Smith bolster Australia's hold on the second Test.

London (AFP) – Australia gained a significant advantage in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s as Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith led the charge, following the impactful performance of England’s recalled fast bowler, Josh Tongue, who took two wickets on the opening day.

Australia scored 96-2 when Tongue executed a special delivery that caused David Warner’s dismissal. The ball, which exhibited exceptional movement, cut back sharply between the left-handed opener’s bat and pad. Warner, who had scored 66 runs, was bowled out by Tongue’s special delivery.

Australia, who currently hold the Ashes and are leading the five-match series 1-0 following a stunning two-wicket victory at Edgbaston last week, had made a commendable recovery to reach a score of 190-2 by the tea break.

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Labuschagne remained not out at a score of 45, while Smith maintained an unbeaten score of 38, resulting in an unbroken partnership of 94 runs for the third wicket.

In the past, the Australian duo held the top two positions in the Test batting rankings. However, their combined score at Edgbaston, spanning four innings, was significantly lower than their previous achievements, totalling only 35 runs.

The bowler, Tongue, who consistently struck the cricket ball with force, achieved commendable interval statistics of 2 wickets for 48 runs in 12 overs.

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The England captain, Ben Stokes, would have desired more wickets by the tea break. This expectation arose after winning the toss on a pitch displaying a greenish hue and playing under cloudy conditions anticipated to assist their five-member pace attack.

The match experienced a temporary interruption before the commencement of the second over. This occurred when two individuals, identified as Just Stop Oil protesters, breached the Grandstand and entered the outfield. They distributed the environmental pressure group’s distinctive orange powder on the square while ensuring the pitch remained unaffected.

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The England wicketkeeper, Jonny Bairstow, physically restrained one of the demonstrators and removed them from the playing area while stewards apprehended the other individual.

Law enforcement officers apprehended a third individual participating in the demonstration before successfully reaching the outfield area. As a result, the police made three arrests during the incident.

England’s aggressive ‘Baseball’ strategy has faced criticism in Birmingham. However, it is worth noting that the team’s defeat can be attributed more significantly to their failure to capitalise on several opportunities.

During the Ashes contest on Wednesday, Stuart Broad, known for his consistent performance against Warner, caused the opener to edge a drive at 20 runs. However, Ollie Pope, positioned at fourth slip, failed to make a successful two-handed catch to his left.

Warner took a risk by attempting a cross-line shot, but he successfully achieved a fifty in 66 balls by executing a powerful pull shot for six off Tongue, who was playing in his second Test match.

During the initial session, Australia came close to preserving all their wickets, but unfortunately, Tongue managed to dismiss Usman Khawaja for 17 runs on the final delivery before the lunch break. Khawaja was caught off guard and did not attempt to play the ball.

Warner was dismissed early in the second session by Tongue, who replaced off-spinner Moeen Ali as the sole alteration to England’s XI.

Smith executed a skilful shot through the covers, resulting in two consecutive fours and a score of 24. Furthermore, he effectively challenged and reversed a caught-behind decision on the subsequent ball.

Broad also dismissed Labuschagne for 33 runs by getting him leg before wicket (lbw) while he did not attempt to play a shot. However, the Australian team reviewed the decision, and the ball was found to be projected to pass over the top of the stumps.

Stokes decided to substitute himself into the game to achieve a significant advancement.

However, in a short period, Smith, under the emerging sunlight, skillfully executed a flick shot through the midwicket region, resulting in a boundary and bringing his total runs in Test cricket to 9,000.

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