Stuart Broad lifts England as Australia’s patient approach stutters at Kia Oval

Stuart Broad kickstarted England’s resurgence as a Australia backed themselves into a corner on day two of the final Ashes Test.

The tourists produced a thoroughly passive batting performance, attempting to grind their opponents down but coming unstuck as they coughed up five wickets in the afternoon session.

At tea they had lurched to 186 for seven, a colourless innings that gave England the upper hand and struck a stark contrast to the hosts’ thrill-a-minute 283 on the first day.

At the break, the Baggy Greens were 97 behind with Steve Smith unbeaten on 40 and carrying the bulk of his side’s hopes.

While England burned out in less than 55 overs and scored at a rampant rate of 5.17, Australia slammed the brakes on as they eked out their runs at 2.48.

With the scoreboard moving at glacial pace in the morning, Australia scoring 54 in two hours of stoic defence, Broad grabbed the initiative after lunch as he removed Usman Khawaja and Travis Head in successive overs.

England kept charging in and chipped away at a side who have retained the urn but lost their mojo. James Anderson claimed his first breakthrough of the match when Mitch Marsh dragged down his stumps, an out-of-sorts Alex Carey lobbed Joe Root to short cover and Mark Wood bounced out Mitchell Starc.

Steve Smith was carrying Australian hopes

Steve Smith was carrying Australian hopes (Mike Egerton/PA)

Root, who was only pressed into bowling action due to first-choice spinner Moeen Ali’s groin injury, had earlier got England on the board with a super reaction catch at first slip.

After almost 90 minutes of blocking in difficult batting conditions the ultra-defensive Marnus Labuschagne, who scraped together nine runs off 82 deliveries, eventually nicked Wood for what should have been a regulation caught behind.

But Jonny Bairstow failed to make a move a move and the ball would have raced away for four had Root not flung himself into action, diving to his left to pull off a remarkable one-handed grab.

Australia still appeared to be in control at the interval, going in at 115 for two as Khawaja produced a watchful opener’s knock, but the limited ambition came home to roost in the middle session.

They added just 71 between lunch and tea as they lost control of the narrative. Broad was the primary reason for the change in tone.

He found a way through Khawaja’s well-rehearsed defences after nearly five hours of occupation, angling in from round the wicket and hitting him in front of leg stump for 47.

He then followed by making short work of the dangerous Travis Head, the man most likely to energise a quiet day.

Head got off the mark with a boundary but that was the start and the end of his scoring, as he felt for contact in the channel and nicked through to Bairstow.

Broad had two in six balls, the crowd’s pulses had raised and Australia had seen their hard work come undone.

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