Super Smith keeps Aussies in the hunt

first_imgBy Ian RansomPERTH (Reuters) – Jonny Bairstow kept his head with a fine century for England but Steve Smith showed a captain’s poise to guide Australia to 203 for three at the close of day two of the third Ashes Test yesterday.Smith was on 92 at stumps, with Shaun Marsh on seven, and the home side, already 2-0 up in the five-match series, having trimmed England’s first-innings lead to 200 runs at the WACA.Bairstow marked his first Ashes ton before lunch with a cheeky celebration, nudging his head against his helmet in a nod to his infamous ‘headbutt’ of Australia opener Cameron Bancroft.The wicketkeeper’s sparkling 119 helped push England to 403, their highest innings total in Australia since the fifth Test of the 2010/11 series.England’s joy was tempered, however, by the runs that went a-begging. They lost six wickets for 35 in a sudden collapse late in the morning session, leaving the door open for Australia.Smith opened it wider with an innings of typical poise, anchoring a 124-run partnership with Usman Khawaja (50) after seamer Craig Overton removed openers David Warner (25) and Cameron Bancroft (22).I think the game is evenly poised at the moment. Tomorrow’s a big day,” Khawaja told reporters after his 10th Test half-century.“We talk about it in golf a lot – third day, moving day.”England may need to contain Smith and Australia with an injury cloud over third seamer Overton.The Devon bowler clutched his chest following a delivery after tea and came off the ground after receiving attention on the field.POOR FIELDING England also rued some poor fielding, with Khawaja reprieved on 39 after he nicked Chris Woakes behind. The ball sailed harmlessly past the shoulder of Joe Root in the slips, the captain seeming to have completely missed its flight.Two overs later, Smith struck a sumptuous cover drive for four to bring up his half-century and stepped up a gear to make Root pay.It took a stunning catch by substitute fielder Peter Handscomb to break the stand, as he dived full-stretch at backward point to remove Malan for 140, with spinner Nathan Lyon forcing the miscued shot.Malan’s dismissal triggered a breathtaking collapse, as Bairstow’s batting partners fell quickly around him.Pat Cummins (2-84) had Moeen Ali caught by Smith at first slip for a duck, and all-rounder Woakes was snaffled in the deep for eight off Josh Hazlewood (3-92).Starc (4-91) ended Bairstow’s 215-ball innings by ripping out his middle stump with a sizzling ball and combined with Hazlewood to clean up the tail.ENGLAND 1st innings (o/n 305-4)A. Cook bw b Starc 7M. Stoneman c Paine b Starc 56J. Vince c Paine b Hazlewood 25J. Root c Paine b Cummins 20D. Malan c sub. b Lyon 140J. Bairstow b Starc 119M. Ali c Smith b Cummins 0C. Woakes c Cummins b Hazlewood 8C. Overton c Bancroft b Hazlewood 2S. Broad c Bancroft b Starc 12J. Anderson not out 0Extras: (b-10, lb-2, nb-1, w-1) 14Total: (all out, 115.1 overs) 403Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-89, 3-115, 4-131, 5-368, 6-372, 7-389, 8-389, 9-393.Bowling: M. Starc 25.1-5-91–4, J. Hazlewood 28-9-92-3 (nb-1), P. Cummins 28-8-84-2 (w-1), N. Lyon 22-4-73-1, M. Marsh 9-1-43-0, S. Smith 3-1-8-0.AUSTRALIA 1st innings C. Bancroft lbw b C. Overton 25D. Warner c Bairstow b C. Overton 22U. Khawaja lbw b Woakes 50S. Smith not out 92S. Marsh not out 7Extras: (b-2, lb-4, w-1) 7Total: (for 3 wickets, 62 overs) 203Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-55, 3-179.Bowling: J. Anderson 14-6-31-0, S. Broad 12-2-50-0, C. Woakes 15-3-42-1 (w-1), C. Overton 10-1-46-2, M. Ali 11-3-28-0.last_img