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Australia pacers set up tense second Test finale
Match Report

Australia pacers set up tense second Test finale

Steve Smith resumed batting after a nasty blow to the neck to add vital runs to Australia's lead before a top-order England collapse gave the visitors a glimmer of hope heading into the final day of the second Ashes Test at Lord's.

England finished the day at 96-4 as rain arrived once again to disturb proceedings.

Early wickets will be key to Australia's cause of achieving an astonishing win that would put them in a dominant position in the five-match series.

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler stand in Australia's way as they prevented any further damage till the end of the day's play.

Smith's laboured 92 was the highlight of Australia's innings with him battling it out on a difficult pitch.

The 30-year-old was on 80 when a well-directed bouncer from Jofra Archer unsettled him and struck him on the side of the neck and head.

Smith, who was wearing a helmet devoid of the side protection that was introduced after the death of Phillip Hughes, fell to the ground crying in anguish immediately after the hit.

The hero of Australia's emphatic 251-run win in the first Test, Smith was then checked by the team's medical staff for several minutes before he decided to retire hurt and walk back to the pavilion to a round of generous applause.

Archer had also struck Smith on the forearm earlier when he was batting on 70 causing fears of an elbow fracture.

These fears later subsided when tests revealed no fracture.

Smith restarted his innings from the score of 80 as soon as Australia's next wicket fell and he tried to up the run rate with consecutive fours off the bowling of Chris Woakes.

However, an error of judgment led him to shoulder his arms to an insiwinging delivery to give Woakes his third wicket.

Smith also used up the review following his dismissal although initially, he seemed to be walking off.

Replays confirmed the on-field umpire's decision and Smith departed for yet another significant contribution of 92 from 161 balls.

'Smith was assessed lying on the pitch'

With the new laws allowing for a player substitute that can bat and bowl in case of a concussion injury, questions were raised over the wisdom of sending in Smith after being hit on the head.

The Australia spokesperson insisted the star batsman's safety was not jeopardized and he was thoroughly assessed by the physios before coming out to bat again.

"He was assessed lying on the pitch at the instructions of team doctor Richard Saw.

"Dr Saw made the precautionary decision to remove Steve from the field of play to have him further assessed under Cricket Australia's head impact protocol.

"Steve then passed his assessments."

England's pace trio of Stuart Broad, Woakes and Archer shared 9 wickets between them while Jack Leach got the wicket of Nathan Lyon.

England then found themselves in dire straits right at the start of the innings, losing two wickets in successive deliveries to Pat Cummins.

Jason Roy, still finding his feet in Test cricket, was flummoxed by a sharp short ball while Joe Root copped the first golden duck of his career.

Rory Burns and Joe Denly restored some stability to the England innings but were removed by Peter Siddle towards the closing time.