By Ed Osmond
LONDON (Reuters) – Australia picked up four wickets in the afternoon session to take control of the second Ashes test as England laboured to 201 for six at tea on the second day at Lord’s on Thursday.
The hosts crumbled from 76 for two at lunch after being sent in to bat, Rory Burns making 53 in the only innings of substance and Josh Hazlewood taking three wickets to put Australia in a strong position as they bid to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
The first day was washed out by rain but the skies were clear on a blustery morning when Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and Hazlewood struck two early blows.
Jason Roy lasted three balls, flashing wildly at his first before edging a lifting delivery to wicketkeeper Paine for nought.
Captain Joe Root survived a few testing overs and twice drove Pat Cummins sweetly to the extra cover boundary before, on 14, he was trapped lbw by Hazlewood with a delivery that jagged back and kept low.
Burns, who made a patient century in the first test at Edgbaston, dug in to play the anchor role again but he was given a life when he drove loosely at a wide ball from Peter Siddle and Usman Khawaja spilled a sharp catch at gully.
Hazlewood, recalled to the side in place of James Pattinson, bowled two probing and accurate spells in the morning, conceding only 14 runs in 10 overs to lift Australia’s quest to win the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.
Burns slog-swept spinner Nathan Lyon, who extracted a bit of turn, for four to bring up England’s fifty and the left-hander was 34 not out at lunch with Joe Denly unbeaten on 27.
As has happened regularly in Denly’s fledgling test career, however, he failed to capitalise on a solid start.
The right-hander added three runs before he nibbled at a full-length Hazlewood delivery and edged another routine catch to Paine.
Burns, dropped again by the keeper, completed his third test fifty, off 119 balls, and he was the victim of a brilliant reaction catch by Cameron Bancroft at short leg as the batsman looked to turn a short delivery from Cummins off his hip.
Jos Buttler made 12 before he hung his bat limply at a wide delivery from Siddle to nick it to Paine and Ben Stokes missed a straight ball from Lyon to depart lbw for 13 with England reeling at 138 for six.
Jonny Bairstow (36 not out) and Chris Woakes (25 not out)steadied the ship with an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 63 in bright sunshine at the home of cricket.
With rain forecast to disrupt day three, however, England face an uphill task to level the series and boost their hopes of regaining the Ashes.
(Reporting by Ed Osmond; editing by Tony Lawrence)