England’s batters faced threatening clouds above and hostile Australian bowlers below as the latest twist in a dramatic Ashes opener at Edgbaston saw the hosts reduced to 28-2 in their second innings on Sunday for an overall lead of 35.
Play was first interrupted early in the afternoon session with England at 26-0 and buoyed from dismissing Australia for 386 right before lunch with Usman Khawaja out for a superb 141.
When play resumed after 75 minutes, England went on to lose both its openers in a disastrous mini-session of only four overs under floodlights. Rain was heavier this time and players again left the field — quicker than when they came on — with England having increased its score by just two runs at the cost of two wickets. In one ray of sunshine for England, it survived a potentially match-deciding appeal for a catch against top batter Joe Root.
After only 10.3 overs so far in the England innings, a pitch inspection at 6 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) will decide if there is to be any more play Sunday. At 5:30 p.m., Edgbaston was brighter but still with floodlights.
Australia captain Pat Cummins, who scored a six-laden 38 at No. 8 in sunshine, took 1-9 in 5.3 overs as the weather deteriorated in the afternoon. Scott Boland grabbed 1-1 in two overs.
Ben Duckett (19) edged Cummins to Cameron Green, who again showed his brilliance in the field by diving low to his left at gully. The dismissal survived a review despite the replay initially drawing jeers from home fans.
Three balls later Zak Crawley (7) was caught by wicketkeeper Alex Carey off Boland.
Enter Root, Australia’s nemesis in the first innings with his 29th test century, who skipped on to the pitch despite the increasing gloom and doom on what had been a mostly unthreatening wicket.
Root survived an early appeal against Cummins for a catch behind. Two balls later, heavy rain forced the teams off again. Ollie Pope and Root are both on 0. Even under England’s aggressive “Bazball” style of cricket, neither batter would likely be too keen to get back out Sunday.
England earlier ran through the Australia tail to take a narrow first-innings lead of seven runs after Australia had resumed the third day on 311-5.
England seamers Stuart Broad (3-68) and Ollie Robinson (3-55) bounced their way through the lower order. At 338-5, Australia had looked like taking a useful first-innings lead but Robinson claimed the key wicket of Usman Khawaja and only Cummins provided more resistance.