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Khawaja adds to England’s Ashes agony after Starc strikes in 2nd Test

Australia’s Usman Khawaja dug in to put Australia in control against England after the hosts’ batting collapse in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Friday.

Ashes-holders Australia were strongly placed at 130-2 in their second innings, a lead of 221 runs, when rain forced an early close to the third day’s play.

Conditions for batting, with the floodlights switched on to counter the gloomy skies in London, were challenging.

But Khawaja, whose hundred at Edgbaston last week helped Australia take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, held firm to reach 58 not out at stumps.

Steve Smith was unbeaten on six following his 110 in Australia’s first-innings 416.

Khawaja and fellow left-handed opener David Warner, who made an unusually restrained 25 off 76 balls, were content to defend in traditional Test-match fashion against the moving ball.

And when Stuart Broad overpitched, Khawaja stylishly drove him through cover-point for four.

Australia’s approach was in marked contrast to the aggressive ‘Bazball’ style that led to several England top-order batsmen throwing away their wickets against the short ball on Thursday.

Khawaja was reprieved on 19 when he pulled fast bowler Josh Tongue to James Anderson at forward square only for the ball to go through the hands of the England veteran, who did not appear to pick up the ball early enough.

England eventually broke through after repeatedly beating the outside edge when Ashes debutant Tongue nipped one back to have Warner lbw, leaving Australia 63-1.

Marnus Labuschagne was given out lbw for just three, only for the decision to be overturned on review.

England collapse

Labuschagne, however, was dismissed for 30 when he steered Anderson to Harry Brook at backward point.

But Khawaja, combining attack and defence, completed a 105-ball fifty, with 40 of his runs coming in boundaries.

Earlier, Mitchell Starc led the world Test champions’ charge as England collapsed to 325 all out in a subdued atmosphere at Lord’s.

The home side, who had resumed on 278-4, added 47 runs in 15.2 overs as the wickets tumbled, with Australia 91 runs ahead on first innings.

Starc, the only change to the Australia XI that enjoyed a thrilling two-wicket win at Edgbaston, took 3-88 in 17 overs.

“It’s a shame it finished early today but it was a really positive morning for us to bowl them out and have a bit of a lead,” Starc told the BBC.

“Our top order capitalised on that early, there was some good bowling, pressure built but our guys got through that.”

Turning to England’s slump, he added: “We knew if we could take a couple (of wickets) early and get some inroads into their tail, things could go the way they did.”

Several England batsmen, including opener Ben Duckett, who was out for 98, fell into a blatant hooking trap late on the second day.

England suffered a further setback off just the second ball of Friday’s play when captain Ben Stokes fell for his overnight 17.

A delivery from left-arm express quick Starc leapt off a length and took the outside edge, with Cameron Green holding a sharp catch at second slip.

It was a morale-boosting start to the day for Australia, bidding for a first Ashes series win in England in 22 years, after off-spinner Nathan Lyon was unable to take the field after suffering a calf strain.

England rising star Brook, 45 not out overnight, completed a 63-ball fifty but his determination to attack proved his undoing.

Brook backed away from a short Starc ball and tried to flat-bat the delivery down the ground, only to slice to extra-cover, where Australia captain Pat Cummins held a simple catch.

At 293-6 England were left looking to Jonny Bairstow, the last of their specialist batsmen, to get on level terms.

Bairstow, however, had only managed 16 when he chipped fast bowler Josh Hazlewood to Cummins at mid-on in search of quick runs with only the lower order for company.

Part-time spinner Travis Head, filling in for Lyon, took two wickets in five balls, a charging Ollie Robinson caught behind, before Broad, previously shaken up a Green bouncer, was lbw.