The Bowlers Of Ireland On The Course For The Girls To Test Victory > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Bowlers put Ireland on course for maiden Test win

Murtagh got rid of top-scorer Leach for 92.

After a second successive day in which Ireland played with immense skill, nerve and character, they have given themselves a fighting chance to register a maiden Test victory against England at Lord's on day three. It will not be easy given the home team's lead is nearing 200 but on a good pitch, winning is within Ireland's grasp. It would be quite something.

They engineered themselves into this position with a bowling display of huge discipline on the second day. The Lord's pitch had flattened out yet Ireland's bowlers were able to take nine England wickets before rain brought an early end to proceedings. There was no mystery spin, no extreme pace, yet Ireland, with their accuracy, their determination and their heart, kept chipping away at a nervy England batting order. Each wicket lifted Ireland a little further and cast a bigger shadow over the home team. Whatever happens tomorrow, this has been a fine display from the Irish.

As they had on the first day, the majority of England's batsmen once again crumbled under the pressure exerted by their opponents. They once again played poor shots. They once again failed to stop a couple of wickets becoming a torrent. They once again pressed the self-destruct button. In all, they lost eight wickets for 122 runs in the second half of the day, moving from a position of dominance to one of mere parity. It could become a theme of the summer.

What they have mustered, however, is a defendable target thanks in large part to a late flurry of runs from Sam Curran and Stuart Broad and given Ireland's batting is equally brittle, England may still emerge victorious. But whatever happens tomorrow, Joe Root's batsmen have not done themselves justice in this game, a worry with the Ashes beginning in less than a week's time at Edgbaston.

With temperatures in the late 30s for much of the day, it was energy sapping work for Ireland's bowlers and for much of the first three hours of play, it was hard work for little reward. After Rory Burns was removed within the first hour, Jason Roy and nightwatchman Jack Leach combined to frustrate the visitors in a century stand. By lunch, England had drawn level with Ireland and were just one wicket down, with the prospect, for the visitors, of a long, hot day in the field to come.

However, the tourists' bowlers never moved far from their plans and came out after the interval with the extra spring in their step that comes from knowing a game is on the line. Four wickets for 23 runs in the middle session turned the complexion of the day and were just reward for their wholehearted efforts of the morning.

Leach's 92 was an innings of doggedness and responsibility interspersed with some strokes that wouldn't have been out of place from a top order player. After registering his maiden Test half-century, he was dropped on 72 and then again on 92, before he was eventually dismissed on the same score by edging Tim Murtagh to slip. But Leach had done his job and then some in seeing off Ireland's initial burst. It was his highest first-class score but agonisingly short of a remarkable Test hundred at Lord's. His top order colleagues might want to take note.

Roy, coming to the crease after Burns had needlessly played at, and edged, a ball outside off-stump, also registered his maiden Test half-century but his was formed in more belligerent fashion. He hit ten boundaries and a six, hinting at the type of destructiveness he could bring to England's batting line-up in Test cricket. Whether longer term that is at the top of the order or in the middle remains to be seen but his innings today at least means one of the top order set to play in the opening Ashes Test will go into that match with some semblance of confidence. Roy was playing nicely until Stuart Thompson beat a flat footed drive and he was bowled.

That dismissal started yet another collapse. Roy was followed by Leach who was then followed by Denly although he was sold down the river by his captain. Root knocked the ball to midwicket, started to run before deciding not to, leaving Denly scampering to get back into his crease at the non-striker's end. Kevin O'Brien and Andy McBrine did the rest and the Kent man was well short. Jonny Bairstow followed shortly after, LBW to the tireless Mark Adair, confirmed on review, to register an inglorious pair for the game. After tea, Moeen Ali was out in similarly disappointing style when flailing at a short ball from Boyd Rankin and edged behind.

After Root and Chris Woakes fell in similar fashion, caught behind the wicket, Curran and Broad put on 45 in quick time to move England's lead past 150 and then Broad swung from the hip to move it to 181 by the close. He and Olly Stone will return in the morning looking to get 200 in front. As he has done a number of times in his Test career to date, Curran changed the momentum of things by taking the attack to Ireland's bowlers. He hit four boundaries and two sixes in his 29 ball 37 and forced William Porterfield to play to his tune. It could be a crucial intervention.

Brief scores: England 85 & 303/9 (Jack Leach 92, Jason Roy 72; Mark Adair 3-66) lead Ireland 207 (Andrew Balbirnie 55, Paul Stirling 36; Sam Curran 3-28) by 181 runs

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