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Ashes 2019: Stunning Smith century rescues Australia as England face Anderson wait

By Opta
Steve Smith rescued Australia with a century

Birmingham, August 2: Steve Smith scored arguably the finest century of his Test career to rescue Australia from the brink of collapse in the first Ashes Test against England side facing an anxious wait to learn the extent of an injury to James Anderson.

Having won the toss and opted to bat, Australia twice looked in deep trouble despite England only being able to get four overs out of leading Test wicket-taker Anderson, who was sent for a scan due to "tightness" in his calf.

Australia were reduced to 35-3 and then 122-8, but on each occasion former captain Smith performed a rebuilding job and was rewarded for anchoring the innings with a hundred on his first Test appearance since serving a 12-month ban.

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He thrived amid the predictable boos that greeted him, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following their suspensions for ball tampering in the South Africa series last year and, having successfully reviewed an lbw decision on 34, racked up 144 to guide Australia to 284 before Stuart Broad bowled him to claim his fifth wicket and 100th in Ashes cricket.

England survived two overs without loss before the close, reaching stumps on 10-0.

Australia won the toss and opted to bat, a decision that looked questionable as the first three wickets fell in short order. Warner, having been incorrectly given not out caught behind, went in the fourth over lbw to Broad.

HawkEye showed the ball would have missed the stumps, setting the tone for a day when umpire errors were commonplace, before Bancroft edged the same man to first slip.

England successfully reviewed and had Usman Khawaja caught behind for 13, but Smith – in a stand of 64 with Travis Head – mounted his first recovery effort of the day as Australia reached lunch without further damage.

Chris Woakes trapped Head in front in the sixth over after the restart, with an aghast Smith correctly given a reprieve in the following over after initially being ruled out not playing a shot.

Another successful review saw Matthew Wade fall to Woakes lbw before captain Tim Paine and James Pattinson went in the space of three balls to Broad. Paine played a dreadful pull shot and Pattinson's exit came with another incorrect lbw decision.

A sub-200 total looked on the cards but Smith, aided by a battling 44 from Peter Siddle, managed the situation brilliantly, farming the strike and peppering the boundary as the depleted England attack tired.

Siddle, who put on 88 with Smith, fell to Moeen Ali but the ex-skipper added another 74 with Lyon, an innings that comprised 16 fours and two sixes eventually ended by a visibly frustrated Broad before Rory Burns and Jason Roy staved off 12 balls.

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Story first published: Friday, August 2, 2019, 0:00 [IST]
Other articles published on Aug 2, 2019
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