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Ben Duckett stars as England battle back in second Ashes Test

Duckett stars as England battle back in second Test
© Reuters
Ben Duckett hits a quick-fire 98 as England reach stumps on day two of the second Ashes Test against Australia on 278-4, trailing by 138 runs.

England have launched a counter-attack to get back into the second Ashes Test, with the home side now trailing Australia by just 138 runs.

Resuming on 339-5, Australia would have backed themselves to see out the morning session and keep England on the defensive after dominating day one.

However, Thursday proved to be England's day, with the Baggy Greens being bowled out for 416 before witnessing England pummel 278-4 off just 61 overs, with Ben Duckett the star with 98.

While there will be frustration at how Duckett and the three other players who were dismissed lost their wickets, England will be delighted with the outcome of their relentlessly-aggressive cricket until the closing overs of the day.

The game could have gotten away from Ben Stokes's side during the early stages of day two had each of England's frontline pace bowlers not chipped in with wickets, with Josh Tongue taking the notable scalp of Steven Smith for 110.

Alex Carey and Pat Cummins, who finished not out, both made 22, but Australia had lost their momentum when Zak Crawley and Duckett came through four overs unscathed before lunch.

A total of 91 was put on by the openers from 17.5 overs before Crawley was stumped off the bowling of Nathan Lyon for 48, with the spinner later suffering a calf injury that may keep him out of the remainder of what is his 100th successive Test.

Ollie Pope made a valuable 42 before holing out to Smith on the boundary, and Duckett also miscued a pull shot to Warner to fall agonisingly short of a first century in an Ashes Test after compiling his knock from just 134 balls.

Having survived a third-ball departure due to a no-ball from Cameron Green, Joe Root inexcusably followed suit soon afterwards, making just 10 from 19 to contribute to England going from 188-1 to 222-4.

With an hour of play still remaining, the pressure was on Harry Brook (45*) and Stokes (17*), yet the pair crafted a well-paced partnership of 56 from 15.3 overs to see England reach the close having suffering no more dismissals.

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Australia's Steven Smith celebrating a half-century against England on June 28, 2023.
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