Joe Root takes stunning catch but Australia stifle England in fifth Ashes Test

Australia slammed on the brakes on the second morning of the final Ashes Test, shutting England’s bowlers out before a stunning catch from Joe Root lifted spirits at the Kia Oval.

The home side were bowled out for a thrill-a-minute 283 on day one, scoring at a frantic pace but burning out in less than 55 overs, with the tourists grinding their way to 115 for two in reply.

Australia, 2-1 up and with the urn already retained, were more than happy to block their way through the first session and shored their position up with some low-risk cricket which takes them one step closer to a first series win on these shores since 2001.

Resuming on 61 for one, they scraped together just 54 runs in 26 overs. Usman Khawaja was still in place at lunch, moving to 47 not out off 152 deliveries, but Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed for nine after chewing through 82 balls.

England had been probing away without success until the pace of Mark Wood finally drew a mistake, Labuschagne edging behind for what should have been a regulation take for wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.

But he remained static, leaving Root to fling himself into action at first slip and snap up a brilliant one-handed take to his left.

Labuschagne appeared to be unhappy at the fading light levels as he skulked towards the pavilion, but Root’s reactions suggested the thick, grey clouds that lingered over the ground were not too bad.

The arrival of Steve Smith, who reached 13 not out at lunch, picked up Australia’s rate, as he drove James Anderson for consecutive fours to ease past Labuschagne’s score in a fraction of the time.

Anderson endured another demoralising session, wheeling away through a couple of tidy but joyless spells in handy conditions.

James Anderson struggled again

James Anderson struggled again (Mike Egerton/PA)

The seamer, who turns 41 on Sunday, has picked up just four wickets in four matches this summer and cannot seem to find the edge of the bat despite building up a steady rhythm.

Stuart Broad was the pick of the attack in a first hour that saw just 13 runs off the bat as well as eight byes.

He had Labuschagne playing and missing, went up for an lbw appeal and saw a flick round the corner land a yard in front of leg gully, but ultimately found himself frustrated by the policy of calculated defence.

Khawaja played his role with aplomb, relentlessly eating up time at the crease in bowler-friendly conditions and ending the morning’s play with a rare flourish as he pinged Wood off his pads to the square-leg boundary.

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