Smith double-century on Ashes return blows England off course - GulfToday

Smith double-century on Ashes return blows England off course

Smith double-century on Ashes return blows England off course

Australia’s Steve Smith returns to the pavilion after scoring 211 against England during their fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester on Thursday. Associated Press

Australia’s Steve Smith took his run-spree this Ashes to a new level as he returned to international cricket with a superb double century on the second day of the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Smith’s 211 was the cornerstone of Australia’s commanding 497-8 declared.

England then lost Joe Denly, a makeshift opener after swapping places with the struggling Jason Roy, for four when he was brilliantly caught at the second attempt by Matthew Wade at short leg following a genuine glance off Pat Cummins.

England were 23-1 at stumps, 474 runs behind, with Rory Burns 15 not out and nightwatchman Craig Overton unbeaten on three.

They now face an uphill task to deny Australia a win that would see the holders retain the Ashes at 2-1 up with one to play in a five-match series.

Smith, the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, missed England’s series-levelling one-wicket win at Headingley with a concussion suffered when struck by a Jofra Archer bouncer during the drawn second Test at Lord’s.

Even so, he has now made 589 runs this series -- his first since completing a 12-month ball-tampering ban, including three hundreds, at a colossal average of 147.25.

This innings followed his scores of 144 and 142 in Australia’s 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston, with Smith’s lowest total in four knocks this series the 92 he made at Lord’s.

The 30-year-old former Australia captain was, however, dropped on 65 on Thursday when fast bowler Archer failed to hold a caught and bowled chance off a hard-hit full toss.

Smith was also reprieved on 118 when caught by Ben Stokes at slip off Jack Leach only for replays to reveal the left-arm spinner had bowled just the eighth no-ball of his first-class career.

But those two let-offs did not detract from Smith’s latest impressive demonstration of the art of Test-match batting.

He faced 319 balls in total, including 24 fours and two sixes, in what was his third double century at this level, all made against England.

Smith was eventually out when he reverse-swept a leg-break from England captain and part-time spinner Joe Root to Denly, who had been at short third man. Smith received good support from Australia captain Tim Paine in a sixth-wicket partnership of 145, the pair batting through the whole of Thursday’s second session.

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc, in his first match of the series, then showcased his proven batting talent with a blistering 54 not out off 58 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, before Paine closed the innings.

Australia resumed on 170-3 under sunny skies after Wednesday’s rain-marred first day and Smith drove Archer through extra cover for a superb back-foot four in the second over to go to 65.

The next delivery, however, saw Smith hammer a full toss straight back at Archer, who dropped the two-handed caught-and-bowled chance, with the ball going for four.

England also gave Paine a ‘life’ when he edged Stuart Broad on nine only for Roy to drop a second-slip catch he should have held.

Agence France-Presse

Scoreboard at stumps on the second day:

Australia 1st Innings (overnight: 170-3)

M Harris lbw b Broad    13

D Warner c Bairstow b Broad    0

M Labuschagne b Overton    67

S Smith c Denly b Root    211

T Head lbw b Broad    19

M Wade c Root b Leach    16

T Paine c Bairstow b Overton    58

P Cummins c Stokes b Leach    4

M Starc not out    54

N Lyon not out    26

Extras (b8, lb14, w3, nb4)    29

Total (8 wkts dec, 126 overs, 570 mins)    497

Did not bat: J Hazlewood

Bowling: Broad 25-2-97-3; Archer 27-3-97-0 (1nb); Stokes 10.5-0-66-0 (2nb); Leach 26.1-3-83-2 (1nb); Overton 28-3-85-2 (3w); Denly 3-1-8-0; Root 6-0-39-1

England 1st Innings

R Burns not out    15

J Denly c Wade b Cummins    4

C Overton not out    3

Extras (nb1)    1

Total (1 wkt, 10 overs, 47 mins)    23

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Denly)

Bowling: Starc 2-2-0-0; Hazlewood 4-1-3-0 (1nb); Cummins 3-0-10-1; Lyon 1-0-10-0

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