Steven Smith (middle) © Getty Images
Steven Smith (middle) took five wickets to ensure England held the advantage © Getty Images

Steven Finn all but assured an England victory with a five-wicket haul — including Steven Smith and Michael Clarke for the second time in the match — as Australia crashed to 168 for 7 at stumps on Day Two of the third Ashes 2015 Test at Edgbaston on Thursday. Apart from taking out Smith and Clarke, Finn also removed Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, and Mitchell Johnson to complete his five-wicket haul. Stuart Broad and James Anderson took a wicket apiece as well, as no Australian batsman save for David Warner managed to make a sizable contribution. Warner played a lone hand, making 77 off 62 balls with 11 boundaries, while Peter Nevill scored an unbeaten 38 to ensure that match extended past the second day. Australia managed to take the lead, albeit one which is a slender 23 runs. The one negative for England was that James Anderson had to leave the field with a side strain after bowling just 8.3 overs. His fitness will be crucial ahead of the fourth Test. Live Blog: England vs Australia, The Ashes 2015, 3rd Test, Day 2

Earlier, Chris Rogers and Smith were both out early, but Warner scored his runs at a scorching rate as Australia reached 73 for 2 at tea. Broad got Rogers out LBW for 6, while Finn got Smith out top-edging a pull. Clarke was the next to go, edging to Ian Bell at slip for 3. Voges then edged to slip off his very first delivery. Marsh survived the hat-trick ball, but was bowled for 6 soon thereafter. Johnson was Finn’s fifth victim, getting a leading edge off an attempted flick to Ben Stokes for 14. Live Scorecard: England vs Australia 2015, 3rd Test at Edgbaston

Earlier, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad ensured that Mitchell Johnson’s double strike in the first session of Day Two of the third Ashes 2015 Test between England and Australia did not damage them too severely. The duo added an invaluable 87 runs for the eighth wicket after England were in danger of being bowled out for less than 250. Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon finished with three wickets apiece, while Johnson and Mitchell Starc ended with two each. For England, Joe Root top-scored with 63, while Moeen made 59 and Ian Bell made 53. England managed to get a 145-run lead on a pitch that still has something in it for the bowlers.

Mitchell Johnson needed less than one over on Day Two of the third Ashes 2015 Test to wrest back the advantage from England. In a matter of three deliveries he removed Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes with ferocious short balls that left the batsmen hopping in their crease. Joe Root was guilty of playing a terribly loose drive without moving his feet, and was out for a well-compiled 63. Jos Buttler was the fourth wicket of the session, falling LBW to Nathan Lyon. Replays showed that the ball bounced above the stumps. Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad put on an unbroken 31 runs to ensure that the lead is slowly closing in on 100. Johnson, by taking the wicket of Bairstow, became only the second Australian after Shane Warne to complete the double of 2,000 runs and 300 wickets in Test cricket. He had scored his 2,000th run on Day One en route to scoring 3, and completed his 300th wicket when he had Bairstow out caught behind.

Joe Root completed a half-century off 49 balls after Mitchell Johnson snared two wickets in three balls early on Day Two of the third Ashes 2015 Test at Edgbaston to get the day off to a rollicking start. Australia‘s pacer Johnson, after taking the wicket of Jonny Bairstow, became only the fifth Australian to complete 300 wickets in Test cricket, with the other four being Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563), Dennis Lillee (355), and Brett Lee (310). Johnson achieved the feat when he claimed the wicket of Bairstow with a ferocious short ball that the batsman could only just fend away. Johnson then followed up the wicket with that of Ben Stokes two balls later, with another snorter. The ball was too short and fast for Stokes, who could only glove it to the ‘keeper. READ: Mitchell Johnson completes 300 wickets in Test cricket

Brief scores:

Australia 136 (Chris Rogers 52; James Anderson 6 for 47, Steven Finn 2 for 38, Stuart Broad 2 for 44) and 168 for 7 (David Warner 77; Steven Finn 5 for 45) lead England 281 (Ian Bell 53, Joe Root 63, Moeen Ali 59; Nathan Lyon 3 for 36, Josh Hazlewood 3 for 74) by 23 runs.

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)