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Six-pack Stokes stars after Smith ton

Haddin leads Australia's fightback from 97 for 5 to reach 326; England lose Carberry before close of play

Six-pack Stokes stars after Smith ton - Cricket News
Steve Smith smashed a 154-ball 115 helping Australia post 326 in its first innings.

A feisty morning session had Australia’s first five wickets falling for less than a hundred runs, before Haddin’s aggressive 75 in a 128-run partnership with Steve Smith redressed the balance. Haddin was unconcerned with the precarious match situation, striking 13 boundaries to cross 50 for the sixth time in seven innings this series. Smith went on to score his second century this summer, his 115 every bit as important in rescuing Australia as his 111 in Perth.

In the fifth Test in Sydney, 97 for 5 had become 326 by half an hour before stumps. England had six overs to face then, and lost Michael Carberry for a duck to end at 8 for 1.

With debutant paceman Boyd Rankin succumbing to a hamstring injury, and debutant legspinner Scott Borthwick succumbing to Australia's aggression, the only consolation for England was an innings haul of 6 for 99 for its tour’s solitary good news story in Ben Stokes.

Smith supported beautifully with a half-century of his own, and then assumed the senior role once Haddin was dismissed. On 55 at the time, Smith showed his full array of strokes in moving to his own hundred with the bowlers for company.

After winning his first toss of the series, Alastair Cook elected to send Australia in. David Warner edged and drove three boundaries from Stuart Broad’s second over, but Broad’s third brought him undone for 16, a beautiful delivery holding its line to collect off stump.

Chris Rogers edged an attempted pull off Stokes on to his stumps for 11, and when Michael Clarke nicked Stokes to Ian Bell at slip for 10, England began to buzz. Shane Watson had looked extremely comfortable in the meantime, off the mark with a crisp cover drive, and clouting boundaries when the fancy struck. In the circumstances, his was the big wicket. It came when Watson had 43, James Anderson got a ball to deck in, and in their ninth bowling innings, England finally had its first lbw of the series.

The wicket brought lunch, and George Bailey went shortly afterwards, edging Broad to a juggled slip catch from Cook for 1. Australia was 97 for 5.

A straight-driven boundary off Broad showed that Haddin had lost none of his touch, and then an uppercut over slips testified to his confidence. Smith joined in with a couple of his own, before Haddin’s true flourish began with three boundaries from four Stokes deliveries, then another from his next ball from Rankin.

That last – a disdainful clump over mid on – brought up a 50 partnership of which Haddin had scored 37. Rankin pulled up lame shortly afterward, leaving the field with a hamstring problem after the first ball of his ninth over.

Borthwick’s introduction was like England’s day in microcosm. For five balls he held it together, conceding just a single, but the last had Smith skipping down the pitch to drive four through mid on, in the process scoring his 1000th Test run.

From there it unravelled, Smith using his feet to render decent balls impotent, and Borthwick dishing out full tosses. After three overs he was off, having conceded 21. Rankin was off the field. Haddin completed his set of first-innings half-centuries with a quick single. Australia’s score was 182. 

Finally Haddin edged to Cook at slip, giving Stokes his third. The 128-run stand was over, but Smith immediately played the shot of the day: a back-cut-cum-square-drive behind point to take Australia to 232.

Mitchell Johnson helped Smith add 44, before holing out to give Borthwick his first Test wicket. By that stage Smith had 85, the score was 272, and the innings was in danger of slipping from England’s control. It officially did so as the next 46 balls produced a 56-run partnership with Ryan Harris. Smith moved to 99 with a lofted on drive for six from Borthwick, then crossed the hundred mark two balls later with the same shot for four, eventually seeing him out of the attack with figures of 1 for 49 from seven overs.

Stokes coaxed Harris into driving a catch to short cover from the first ball of his 20th over, and then had Peter Siddle nicking next ball. The adrenaline got to Smith, who tried to smash the final ball down the ground but dragged it low to mid on. Three wickets in an over and Stokes had a six-for to go with his Perth century.

But almost every short batting sequence this series has seen England lose wickets, and Friday was no exception, with Johnson monstering Carberry right from his first ball. Carberry flicked towards fine leg, and Nathan Lyon at leg slip took a tumbling catch.