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Leach’s 92 trumped by spectacular Adair-led comeback

by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read

Jack Leach was England’s unlikely saviour with the bat as Ireland fought back valiantly on day two at Lord’s to leave the Test in the balance.

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Nightwatchman Leach, opening the batting for the second time in his nascent Test career, hit his highest score in professional cricket before a middle-order collapse swung the momentum back in Ireland’s favour on another topsy-turvy day of Test cricket.

After the dismissal of an out-of-sorts looking Rory Burns for six, England were still 96 runs in arrears with Leach and debutant Jason Roy at the crease on a pitch that saw 20 wickets fall on day one. From an Irish perspective, the pitch was visibly less green than on Wednesday, and with temperatures soaring to record temperatures, picking up wickets was likely to be harder work.

Batting with sense and reassuring simplicity, Leach saw through the new-ball spell before capitalising on anything loose from the Irish bowlers tiring in the searing London heat. You wouldn’t have been able to tell based on today’s cricket that Rory Burns was the regular opener, picked after four years of prolific run-scoring at domestic level, and Leach was the nightwatchman who batted at number 11 in the first innings.

Roy was excellent too and looked like he’d take the game away from Ireland as he continued his fine World Cup form. His dismissal for 72 sparked a spectacular middle-order collapse that saw England fall from 171-1 to 194-5. Encouragingly for Ireland, it was young seamer Mark Adair who made the most damage.

Swinging the ball prodigiously in both directions, he accounted for Jonny Bairstow (0), Joe Root (31) and Chris Woakes (13) in quick succession. Stuart Thompson, who was expensive on day one, contributed with the important wickets of Roy and Sam Curran, who made a typically enterprising 29-ball 37.

Roy, Leach and Curran aside, England’s batting performance was arguably more feeble than their first-innings effort that saw them bowled out for 85 before lunch. Whereas Tim Murtagh was irresistible in helpful conditions yesterday, Leach and Roy showed that batting was far easier on day two. Lightning saw a premature end to the day’s proceedings with England 181 runs ahead with nine wickets down. Weather permitting, we should be in for a barnstormer of a third day.

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