Steven Smith remained unbeaten on __    Getty Images
Steven Smith remained unbeaten on __ Getty Images

Australia had lost 4 wickets for 76 runs in a quest of England’s 302 runs. James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, and Moeen Ali had taken a wicket each. The pitch did not have enough venom as the scorecard suggested, but England made sure they make Australia succumb to pressure. At the crease was the captain Steven Smith and the erratic Shaun Marsh. England were well on course for a sizable first-innings lead.

But there still was Smith in the middle. One wicket, and Australia would be back in the woods. Marsh can be awry at times, but it is Smith’s wicket that England were after.

None of this affected Smith. He was as focussed as he always is, unweathered by the situation. He left the ones pitched outside off until England were forced to bowl on his pads; and when that happened, Smith ensured he pushed them through gaps.

Smith’s confidence rubbed off on Marsh. He remained unbeaten on 44, while Smith scored his 22nd fifty as Australia trail by 137 runs on Day Two.

Resuming the play at 196 for 4, Moeen Ali and Dawid Malan continued the good work. They added 73 runs for the fifth wicket before both were dismissed in consecutive overs: Starc had Malan caught, while Nathan Lyon trapped Moeen lbw.

England would have been bundled way below 300 had Ball and Broad not rushed through the gears: they added 34 runs between them. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins took three-fors.

In reply Australia lost Bancroft early. Broad lured him into edging an away-seamer. Things, however, got worse for Australia. Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb went for 11 and 14 respectively.

Lucky were Australia that Smith and Marsh kept England at bay, stitching up 91 runs for the fifth wicket.

Brief scores:

England 302 (Mark Stoneman 53, James Vince 83; Mitchell Starc 3 for 77, Pat Cummins 3 for 85) lead Australia 165 for 4 (Steven Smith 64, Shaun Marsh 44; James Anderson 1 for 26, Stuart Broad 18 for 13) by 137 runs.

Full scorecard