Steven Smith scored his maiden century as Australia took advantage of the fifth Ashes 2013 Test at the end of Day Two at The Oval. Australia declared at 492 for nine as Smith remained unbeaten on 138. England finished the day at 32 for no loss trailing Australia by 460 runs.
The start of play was severely delayed due to persistent rain and an early lunch was taken. Australia began the day on 307 for four with Smith on 66 and Peter Siddle on 18. England got the early breakthrough they wanted. James Anderson’s out-swinger landed in line with the off-stump on a good length. The ball moved away and Siddle was beaten by the swing as it clipped the stumps.
There were some nervous moments for Smith as a delivery from Chris Woakes struck him on the pads but the ball was drifting just wide of leg stump. Then Stuart Broad’s out-swinger just missed the outside edge of Smith’s bat. Smith did come back strongly with a cracking shot through point to get a four of Broad.
Brad Haddin then got a couple of fours of Woakes in an over. Alastair Cook then wasted a review. Anderson’s delivery ball brushed Haddin’s thigh pad and Prior took the catch. After deliberation with the bowler and the wicketkeeper, Cook asked for the referral, but not surprisingly was turned down.
Cook then instead of bringing on debutant left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, threw the ball to Jonathan Trott to bowl his right-arm mediums. Smith then got to his maiden Test century with a massive six of Trott over long-on. Australia immediately lost Haddin (30) as he dragged a full delivery onto the stumps. Tea was taken before Australia could reach the 400-run mark after the 117 overs.
The tone was set for the Australian lower-order batsmen as play resumed for the final session. James Faulkner targeted Anderson and hit three fours in an over. Faulkner then hit a four of Woakes before hitting one shot too many to gift him his first Test wicket. He top-edged a pull and Trott took a running and diving catch at deep backward square-leg. He departed for an enterprising 23 off 21 balls.
Mitchell Starc (13) also tried to follow in Faulkner’s footsteps, but got bowled by Graeme Swann while trying to slog across the line. Ryan Harris followed the mantra and attacked the England bowlers right from the beginning. He struck two sixes off Swann. The first was a slog over wide long-on and the second was straight down the ground.
Smith in the meantime took a backseat as Harris kept the run flowing. He drove a full delivery from Broad to get a four in the extra-cover region. Harris was throwing his bat at almost everything and then he sliced a lofted drive in the air of Anderson’s bowling. The ball went high in the air, but Anderson got beneath it to take a brilliant diving catch. Harris had to go for a quick-fire 33 off 27 balls. That was Anderson’s fourth wicket of the innings. Then one ball later, Michael Clarke declared the innings at 492 for nine. Smith remained unbeaten on 138.
Cook and Joe Root began the innings for England. It was a highly cautious start from the duo, despite the ball not doing too much. A couple of bad deliveries were put away for fours from the batsmen but largely the scoring in the last hour was very slow. As the light became poorer, the umpires called for stumps. England finished the day 460 runs behind Australia. Cook was on 17 and Root was on 13.
Australia 492 for 9 decl. (Shane Watson 176, Steven Smith 138*, Ryan Harris 33; James Anderson 4 for 95, Graeme Swann 2 for 95) lead England 32 for no loss (Alastair Cook 17*, Joe Root 13*) by 460 runs.
(Shrikant Shankarpreviously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)