On a day of typical old fashioned Test cricket, Rory Burns got his maiden test century to put England in a dominant position on day 2 of the first test. Although it wasn’t as dramatic as day one, Burns century is very significant to the context of the series for England. By the end of day’s play, England was 267-4 with Burns still batting at 125, having Stokes for company.
Burns was dodgy, with an unorthodox technique, trying to make the most out of his strengths. He played with soft hands, making sure that the edges didn’t carry or go through the slip cordon. He played the new ball quite brilliantly, as he nullified the threat of Pat Cummins early on.
Anything that was bowled too full or too short, he capitalized on them. Burns almost left everything else, defended whenever the stumps were targeted. He got a lot of boundaries through the third man region. He cut, flicked, edged, skewed, nudged around and stayed ground.
As he entered his nineties, he saw Joe Denly and Jos Butler get out at the other end. He had to play cautiously as another wicket at that point of time would have put Australia in a better position. He took 32 balls to get the last ten runs of his century. It was an innings of restraint, grit, skills, a bit of luck and tremendous concentration.
Starting the day’s play at 10-0, Pattinson was breathing fire. The contest between Jason Roy and Pattinson was a delight to watch. Pattinson made Roy dance to his tunes, before getting him out in the eighth over of the innings. Roy managed to edge a back of length outswinger to Steve Smith at second slip, who did the rest.
After losing Roy early, Burns joined hands with his captain Joe Root. They batted time and tried to tire out the Australian bowlers, with occasional boundaries in between. Root especially seemed quiet and picked up singles and twos, while Burns cashed-in on the bad deliveries. They played safely, without denying another wicket to Australia before lunch.
Root looked more comfortable in the post-lunch session, while Burns was playing at his own pace. The duo kept the scorecard ticking by taking quick singles. It might have cost them dearly, had Usman Khwaja hit the stumps on one of those occasions when Burns was well short of the crease. Just when Root was starting to look good post his half-century, he got out to a return catch of Peter Siddle. Root and Burns put on a partnership of 132 for the second wicket, which denied Australia the driving seat on Day 2.
Joe Denly, who came in a number four looked good for a brief while with a couple of boundaries. Australia was bowling extremely well in this passage of play. Pattinson and Cummins were reversing the ball and Denly got out to an in-swinger after a series of out-swingers. Pattinson struck him on the pads and it was crashing into middle and leg stumps. Soon enough, Cummins squared up Jos Butler, nicking him off to third slip. England was 194-4 at that stage. One more wicket and Australia would have been right back in the match. Ben Stokes and Burns stuck together and guided England to safety by the end of days play. Stokes hit a flurry of boundaries, scoring 38 off 71 balls.
The umpires were under the scanners today as well. Lyon struck Burns on the pads when he was batting on 22. Umpires gave it not out. Australia didn’t opt for a review. However, replays showed that it was crashing into the stumps. Had that been out, it could have changed the dynamics of the match.
Pattinson was bowling beautifully in his first spell and he got Root out caught behind. Root opted for a review, which showed that the ball had hit the off stump but the bails didn’t fell. Root survived. Siddle struck Root on the pads in the 34th over, only to be overturned due to a big inside edge.
Australian bowlers were found guilty of not bowling full enough throughout the innings. Either they were bowling short or back-of-the-length by which, they didn’t give themselves enough chances to make the ball talking. Pattinson was the pick of four bowlers, who kept the batsman guessing. Siddle was the workhorse, as he didn’t give away any freebies to the English batsmen. Nathan Lyon bowling flatter and quicker didn’t help him either. Whenever the bowled slower through the air, it looked a different ball-game. We saw that there’s enough spin in this wicket and with the footmarks, it will only get better for the spinners. Lyon might be the key bowler for Australia going into day three.