Ireland on track for epic victory over England
Ireland have moved tantalisingly within sight of a historic Test win over England as they reduced the hosts to 9-303 in their second innings to trail by 181 at a sweltering Lord's.
For the second day running, William Porterfield's modest team made a mockery of reputations to give World Cup champions England a torrid time at the home of cricket on Thursday.
There was no repeat of Wednesday's mayhem when Ireland marked their first Test match at Lord's, and only their third ever, by skittling England for 85 before being dismissed for 207.
When nightwatchman Jack Leach, who fell eight runs short of his century, and Jason Roy took England to 1-171, it appeared the fun was over for the upstarts.
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Ireland's tenacious attack of Tim Murtagh, Mark Adair, Boyd Rankin and Stuart Thompson plugged away however, and were rewarded as England collapsed for the second day running in a match supposed to be a loosener for next week's Ashes opener.
Seven wickets fell for 77 runs to leave England teetering on the brink at 8-248 - a mere 126 ahead - before Sam Curran (37) and Stuart Broad (21no) counter-attacked.
Friday promises to be an intriguing finale with Ireland likely to be set a modest, but nervy, victory target.
Should they pull off one of the biggest Test shocks ever, it would rival their 2011 World Cup win over England and fully vindicate them being given Test status in 2017.
England's Leach said his side had given themselves a chance.
"We believe we can definitely win the game. The wicket is still doing bits. We've got to make the most of that tomorrow," he said.
Leach, in the side predominantly for his left-arm spin, showed the specialist batsmen what was possible, playing like a seasoned opener instead of a man without a first class century.
With test debutant Roy showing his one-day panache at the other end, the game was slipping out of Ireland's control as England established parity at 1-122 by lunch.
Leach was spared when Adair fumbled a routine slip catch but three balls later he edged Murtagh, Wednesday's five-wicket hero, and this time Adair pouched it. It slammed the brakes on England's advance and Joe Denly was run out for 10 after a dreadful mix-up with Root.
Jonny Bairstow was tapped lbw by Adair in the next over for his second duck of the match as England reached tea on 5-209 - a precarious lead of 87. Ireland then turned the screws. Moeen Ali (9) feathered a short ball from Rankin behind to Gary Wilson then Root played airily to an Adair ball outside off stump, slicing a diving Wilson.
When Chris Woakes was eighth man out after falling to Adair for 13, caught by Andy Balbirnie at second slip, Irish eyes were widening with excitement as they trailed the hosts by only 126 runs.
Porterfield almost produced a sensational catch at mid-wicket but Curran survived to lead an England counter-attack that could yet prove decisive - striking four boundaries and two sixes in a 29-ball 37 before splicing a high catch to James McCollum.
England 1st innings 85
Ireland 1st innings 207
England 2nd innings
J LEACH c Adair b Murtagh 92
R BURNS c Wilson b Rankin 6
J ROY b Thompson 72
J DENLY run out (O'Brien) 10
J ROOT c Wilson b Adair 31
J BAIRSTOW lbw Adair 0
M ALI c Wilson b Rankin 9
S CURRAN c McCollum b Thompson 37
C WOAKES c Balbirnie b Adair 13
O STONE not out 0
S BROAD not out 21
Sundries (1b 7lb 4nb) 12
Nine Wickets for 303 Fall: 26 (Burns), 171 (Roy), 182 (Leach), 194 (Denly), 194 (Bairstow), 219 (Ali), 239 (Root), 248 (Woakes), 293 (Curran).
Bowling: T Murtagh 18-3-52-1, M Adair 20-7-66-3 (1nb), B Rankin 17-1-86-2 (1nb), S Thompson 12.4-0-44-2 (2nb), A McBrine 10-1-47-0.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Ruchira Palliyaguruge TV Umpire: Paul Wilson Match Referee: Andy Pycroft