England on top on Day 2 of Ashes opener, Broad & Stokes reign supreme

Star England seamer Stuart Broad got the better of top-ranked test batter Marnus Labuschagne for a golden duck on Saturday after David Warner had self-destructed as England reduced Australia to 78-3 at lunch on the second day of the Ashes opener. The hosts took advantage of more bowler-friendly conditions to leave Australia still trailing by 315 runs.

England captain Ben Stokes claimed another key dismissal, trapping second-ranked Steve Smith leg before wicket just when Australia seemed to be recovering.

Australia went to lunch with a run-rate that was half that of England`s in its 393-8 declared late on the first day. Opener Usman Khawaja hit a solid 40 not out and third-ranked Travis Head, who has a lot of work to do for his team, is 8 not out.

Broad took 2-17 and Stokes 1-6 from his three overs.

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If the crowd was buoyed by Stokes deciding to bowl, amid national worry over his knee injury ahead of the first test, it went wild when Smith was given out leg before. The Aussie batting great instantly appealed the dismissal, thinking the ball was too high. He was wrong and Stokes had once more struck a key blow for England.

Warner earlier kept to the Ashes script by falling to Broad, his test nemesis who claimed the opening batter`s wicket seven times in the last Ashes series.

Warner should have known better but didn`t, attempting to smash Broad with venom and cutting the ball back onto his stumps. Playing in his last Ashes series, Warner looked at the screen replay as he walked slowly off.

That brought out Labuschagne and this time the dismissal was all credit to England as Broad`s outswinger drew an edge to produce a fine catch from Jonny Bairstow diving low down to his right.

The shock dismissal of the top-ranked batter brought in the man immediately behind him in the standings, and Smith sensibly let Broad`s hat-trick ball go safely round his legs.

Australia had resumed on 14-0 in overcast conditions after a spot of rain. There was a moderate breeze as the English and Australian flags fluttered next to the slow-moving scoreboard.

England started with three maiden overs, two bowled by Broad and one by James Anderson. The slow start to the second day may have contributed to Warner`s impatience.

The breeze died down, the sun came out and Smith, who scored 144 and 142 at Edgbaston in the 2019 Ashes series ¿ started to look settled, sharing a 38-run partnership with Khawaja. And then Stokes struck. 

(With AP inputs)

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