Jack Leach to the rescue for England against Ireland with Test on a knife edge

England ended Day 2 of the inaugural Test between the neighbouring nations on 303-9 - a lead of 181 - thanks in no small part to the nightwatchman

England's Jack Leach hits for a four during day two of the Specsavers Test Series match at Lord's, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 25, 2019. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the ECB. Still image use only. No moving images to emulate broadcast. No removing or obscuring of sponsor logos.
Powered by automated translation

Nightwatchman Jack Leach produced an improbable, and potentially match-saving, innings after his career-high 92-run knock led England's fightback against Ireland at Lord's on Thursday.

However, Ireland remain firmly in the hunt for a shock win against the heavily-fancied hosts in what would be one of the biggest upsets in Test cricket history.

England ended Day 2 of the inaugural Test between the neighbouring nations on 303-9 - a lead of 181 - after lightning and rain brought an early end to proceedings.

With the game so finely poised, all three results remain on the table but England may already have been staring down the barrel of a remarkable defeat had it not been for a steadfast knock from Leach.

The left-hander vaulted from No 11 to an emergency role at the head of the innings late on Day 1 and went on to share a stand of 145 with debutant Jason Roy, who scored an attacking 72.

"It is funny in five games I've opened the batting twice," Leach told Sky Sports. "Nice to be out there and try to eat up some balls and take the shine off the ball, make it a bit easy for batters coming in and see how far you can take it. It seemed to go alright.

"I was telling myself not to think about it (a hundred) which means I probably was. It wasn't to be, but I tried my best and that is all I could do. It was good fun out there and was nice to bat with Jason Roy."

Leach added: "We have got to move on quickly, especially with the Ashes around the corner. A tough couple of days, but we have given ourselves a chance.

"We feel like we have a chance. We are going to have to bowl well second innings."

By the time the pair had steered the score to 171-1, Ireland seemed out on their feet on a sweltering afternoon, but they rallied by claiming the next seven wickets for 77 runs.

The pendulum had swung again thanks to a seam attack led by newcomer Mark Adair's three-for only for Sam Curran to counter with a swift 37.

Ireland's hopes of wrapping things up by stumps ended when the weather changed, leaving everything to play for on Day 3.

Ireland Test debutant Adair said: "It was tough, it was nice to see the lads dig in and try to get through the second session."

On the prospect of beating England, he added: "We are going to have to bat well, we got 200 first innings when the pitch was less friendly.

"It would be our first Test win, which would mean more than beating England. This would be a dream debut."