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Smith, Warner stand tall as Australia shows grit

Vice-captain unbeaten on 78 as visitors reach 287 for 3 against England on opening day of final Test

Smith, Warner stand tall as Australia shows grit - Cricket News
Steve Smith plays a shot.

Half-centuries from Steven Smith and David Warner helped Australia end Day 1 of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval on Thursday (August 20) on 287 for 3, after the visitors were asked to bat in bowling-friendly conditions.

When bad light forced an early end to proceedings, Smith was unbeaten on 78 with Adam Voges giving him company on 47 not out as the duo added 101 runs for the fourth wicket.

Chris Rogers, who will be retiring from international cricket after this Test, and Warner put on 110 for the first wicket as Australia kept the England bowlers at bay  - the focus was clearly on crease occupation in the first hour of play.

Stuart Broad, who ripped through Australia in a sensational opening burst in the first innings of the fourth Test, was fractionally too wide early on against batsmen determined not to chase the ball after their Nottingham defeat. As a result, Australia’s score at the end of the first hour read 19 without loss in 14 overs, as compared to 28 for 7 in 11 overs at Trent Bridge.

Australia's first boundary of the innings did not arrive until the 15th over when the normally aggressive Warner -- who had faced 45 balls without a boundary -- pulled Ben Stokes through square leg. Two balls later, Rogers added a four of his own by driving Stokes to the cover-point boundary.

England eventually separated the pair when Rogers (43) pushed away from his body against Mark Wood and Cook held the outside edge on the second attempt at first slip.

Warner, in sight of what would have been his first Test hundred in England, fell when he pushed forward to Moeen Ali and was caught at slip by Adam Lyth.

Clarke then walked out to a standing ovation from the crowd as England's players formed a guard of honour in the middle for the Australia captain.  

One of Australia's greatest batsmen, Clarke exited for 15 when he edged a delivery from Ben Stokes that seamed off the pitch to Jos Buttler. The captain consulted Smith and sought a review but it was in vain.

Smith, returning to form after his 215 and 58 in the second Test at Lord's were followed by four single-figure scores in the next two Tests, cover drove Stokes for his sixth four to complete an 84-ball fifty. He then went down the pitch to loft Moeen for six over mid-off.

Despite the floodlights piercing the gloom, the umpires halted play at 6:31 pm local time.

Earlier in the day, England fielded an unchanged team after James Anderson, the all-time leading Test wicket-taker for the side, was again ruled out with the side injury that saw him miss the fourth Test. Australia, meanwhile, recalled Mitchell Marsh in place of his brother Shaun, while Peter Siddle was selected for his first Test of the series in place of Josh Hazlewood, who was ruled out due to an injury.

To see the full scorecard, please click here. 

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