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Rory Burns' maiden Test century puts England in control of the proceedings
Match Report

Rory Burns' maiden Test century puts England in control of the proceedings

Rory Burns displayed sheer resilience to defy the Australian bowlers all throughout day two of the opening Ashes Test to lead his side into a dominant position courtesy a magnificent unbeaten century.

Burns was not out at 125 off a whopping 282 deliveries at stumps as England reached within touching distance of Australia's first-innings total with six wickets in hand.

Having come into the match with the weight of criticism constantly grinding him down, Burns soaked in the generous applause that greeted him when he brought up the first century of his career.

At the other end was England vice-captain Ben Stokes, whose blossoming partnership with Burns has reached an unbroken 73. 

It was a remarkable turnaround from England's score of 85 against Ireland at Lord's just over a week ago where Burns was found wanting trying to poke at balls delivered outside the off-stump.

"It was quite an enjoyable experience. It felt a little bit different to the Ireland Test. That stand rocking, this place going... it was quite something. I've got my own song as well. I didn't think I was going to have one," a delighted Burns told Sky Sports after the day's play.

Contrasting emotions engulfed the Australian camp where assistant coach Brad Haddin conceded: "It was a tough day. I thought England deserve credit for the way they played."

The preceding day saw the returning Steve Smith conjure up one of the most memorable centuries of his career when he top-scored with 144 out of his team's total of 284.

England resumed their innings on the start of day two with both openers having faced an over each.

Jason Roy's transition to Test cricket has been bittersweet thus far as once again he erred in his judgment and nicked a delivery off James Pattinson to second slip leaving England at 22-1.

England captain Joe Root's promotion to No. 3 in the batting order then paid dividends as England recovered with a 132-run partnership.

Lady Luck gives England a hand

Root's circumspect stay at the crease, however, was plagued by close calls in the initial phase of his innings.

He was almost bowled by Nathan Lyon's first delivery, which seemed to spin in from the rough.

The Yorkshireman had a miraculous escape on nine when he was adjudged caught behind by the umpire but the decision was overturned upon reviewing as the ball had kissed the off-stump keeping the bail intact.

Burns gradually became comfortable as the innings progressed, frequently meeting the ball with the middle of his bat whenever an Australian pacer pitched it in his driving arc.

Root's good fortune was further symbolized by another successful use of the review when given out to an lbw appeal from Peter Siddle on 14.

The abysmal umpiring standards in this match hence once again came into question.

Root soon got into the groove and began to unleash drives of great finesse to bring up yet another half-century.

The England skipper failed to convert his promising start into a marathon innings as he fell at 57 to a moment of brilliance in the field from veteran pacer Siddle.

Australia's strategy to attack Burns from bowling around the wicket seemed to backfire as this allowed the 28-year-old ample time to work the ball repeatedly towards the leg-side. 

When the tourists finally altered their plan, Burns was well settled and anchored England's innings.

Despite having spent more than five hours in the middle, Burns was stuck for 36 balls in the 'nervous 90s' as he edged closer than ever to the three-figure mark. 

Eventually, Burns threaded the gap off Lyon to register a quick single to reach his maiden century and repay the faith shown in him by the selectors.

Lyon, who often gripped and turned the ball sharply past the outside edge of the batsmen, had to resign to his fate with a wicketless day's play for him.

Earlier, two quick scalps of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler offered Australia some hope of making further incisions on England's batting line-up but World Cup hero Stokes thrived with the bat even with the arrival of the new ball.

Australia seem to be in store for a daunting first-innings deficit unless their pacemen can trigger a late order collapse.