Half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith led Australia’s strong reply with the bat on day two of the third Ashes Test which has been left tantalisingly poised. Australia were 203 for three at the stumps, trailing England’s first innings total by 200 runs.
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In reply to England’s 403, the hosts got off to a decent start with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft looking comfortable against England’s pacers. However, things changed when Craig Overton came to bowl and managed to extract some movement off the surface. The right-arm seamer made an immediate impact by removing both the Australia openers quickly to reduce the hosts to 55 for 2.
However, Australia soon managed to ease off the pressure after Smith began the proceedings on a fine note with a flurry of boundaries. Smith and Khawaja steadied the ship with a 124-run stand before Chris Woakes dismissed the latter for 50. Smith and Shaun Marsh then helped the hosts to close the day without any further hiccup. Smith was unbeaten on 92 while Marsh was playing on 7.
Earlier in the day, Australia once again made light work of England’s lower-order to claw their way back into the game after the huge stand between Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow. Resuming the day on 305 for 4, England threatened to take firm command of the game after overnight batsmen Malan and Bairstow did not face much of trouble. The duo began cautiously, scoring just one run in the first five overs after playing four consecutive maidens but soon found their rhythm and the following seven overs yielded 50 runs. During that phase, Bairstow also reached his first ton against Australia.
England were looking destined to score 450-plus before a rash shot from Malan opened the floodgates. Batting on 140, the southpaw danced down the track to hit Nathan Lyon against the turn but ended up top-edging it which was taken brilliantly by Peter Handscomb at the point. The shot ended the record 237-run stand between Malan and Bairstow. A couple of balls later, Moeen Ali edged a Pat Cummins delivery in the slips while the following players also failed to fire as the visitors were all out for 403 from 368 for 4.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the day’s play:
England just can’t seem to string two strong days together. Great effort to get 400 but another opportunity missed to take Australia out of the game.
Smith is on another level to anyone else atm. #ashes
— Chris Tremlett (@ChrisTremlett33) December 15, 2017
Why would you bowl there to Smith? And by ‘there’, I mean ‘at a cricket ground’. #Ashes
— Dan Liebke (@LiebCricket) December 15, 2017
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) December 15, 2017
3-203 at stumps. Smith 92, S Marsh seven. Deficit 200. Draw looking the most likely result but no doubt some twists to come. #Ashes
— Andrew Faulkner (@AndrewFaulkner9) December 15, 2017
— zainab abbas (@ZAbbasOfficial) December 15, 2017
How does Steve Smith get out in this innings, presuming he does? #Ashes
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) December 15, 2017
Balls faced this #Ashes
Dawid Malan – 512 balls
Cook + Root – 505 balls
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) December 15, 2017
Brilliant 100 for @jbairstow21.
He head-butts helmet to celebrate.
Runs flowing furiously, Aussies on the rack.
It's only 3.35am & I'm horribly hungover, but who cares? This is the #Ashes. @btsportcricket pic.twitter.com/96RwKUK21E
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 15, 2017
1-1… Day 1 England …. Day 2 Australia …. Fantastic Test Match cricket …. #Ashes
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 15, 2017