Bairstow and Malan were the two remaining batsman, with the overnight score leaving England on 305-4. Unsurprisingly, Starc opened up and bowled exceptionally to the England pair, finding that full length that he is known for, almost yorking both batsmen on multiple occasions. The first 6 overs of the day produced just 6 runs before the floodgates were once again opened.
Mitch Marsh came on and was again carted by the England team. After the first 6 went for just 6, the next 6 went for over 60. Some beautiful strokes from Malan and Bairstow saw England reach 350, the 200 partnership, but most importantly, a well deserved hundred with Bairstow. He celebrated hugely even throwing a cheeky headbutt or two into his helmet. A fantastic innings and more proof that he is a top order batsman.
However England were due a reminder that they were the inferior side and they were very much given it! Lyon made his first significant contribution of the match by taking the wicket of Malan. He coaxed the number 5 into trying to hoof the ball into cow corner, instead catching the top edge which flew up into the air, well caught by a diving substitute fielder. England were on 368-5 after the 237 partnership was finally ended.
Moeen Ali then continued his poor tour form with an absolute nothing shot. Cummins banged it in short and Ali prodded at it outside his body straight to Smith. A duck for the England man left England on 372-6 after starting the day out so well. You would expect him to do a lot better. Another let down.
Woakes came in and added just 8 more to leave the total at 389-7. Bairstow was removed soon after by a top ball by Starc, pitching on leg, and would have crashed into off if it wasn’t for the inside edge of Bairstow guiding it into middle stump. A seriously well earned 119 from the England keeper. The last two wickets of Overton and Broad came cheaply with them getting 2 and 12 respectively, with both players lobbing dropping the ball straight to Bancroft at short leg. The only highlight being an enormous six from Broad which brought up 400 for England. They could have had a lot more than the 403 they ended up on. The pick of the bowlers was definitely Starc, who found consistency for the first time in the series, taking 4-91.
Broad and Anderson opened up for England, yet again going for the tactic of just banging the ball in on a short length, with the same result as it produced at the Gabba. After ten overs the Openers Bancroft and Warner hadn’t been troubled, adding 30 very easily with their quick running still being very much on point.
Overton came on and took the wicket of Warner early on, which left the hosts on 44-1. He fell for just 22 after edging the ball behind to Bairstow outside off. Another fairly poor shot really from Warner, after not putting a foot wrong beforehand. Khawaja was then dropped on 0 just a couple balls later. It would have taken a strong catch by Overton off his bowling, but a chance none the less.
Overton then caught Bancroft on the pads, leading to a huge appeal from the England team. It was initially given not out, but England correctly sent it upstairs, and what a decision it was. My first thought was that it was pitching well outside off but as it turned out, ball tracking disagreed, with the ball’s trajectory ending up 3/4 of the way up the middle stump. Bancroft was sent packing for 25 with Smith in at 55-2, immediately attacking the England bowlers. Smith built another one of his partnerships that see the game completely disappear from your hands, this time with Khawaja. England yet again went into hibernation. Moeen Ali may have broken records in England, but England can’t actually play him next test if he bats like he doesn’t give a toss, and tosses it up for the batsman when bowling!
Before tea, a minor battle between Overton and Smith started, but again, when England get in a mood down under, their bowlers simultaneously give up. And after tea it was very much the same affair. Smith attacked at a run-a-ball, and Khawaja just stayed in there with him. This series has produced gorgeous cover drive after another, and Smith has worked the ball using that shot perfectly this innings.
Woakes almost got the wicket of Khawaja after an edge wasn’t picked up at all by Root in the slips. Even when Khawaja has a top innings, there is always that feeling that he is one terrible shot away from handing over his wicket. Smith brought up his 50 not long after this, off 58 balls through another cracked cover drive. It has been an eminently watchable innings.
As the day went on, England looked more unsettled, and Smith looked more comfortable. Sometimes you have to wonder if he is human after all, and today is one of those days. The hundred partnership was brought up, with that England lead being chipped away very quickly. Not long after Khawaja’s 50 was brought up before he was given out LBW just a few balls later. It was reviewed but to no avail, as he was sent on his way via umpire’s call on both the impacts. Another unfortunate one for Khawaja this series. Australia were on 179-3, adding a further 24, mostly by the hand of Smith before the end of play on day two. At exactly 200 behind, this game is so on.
Both positives and negatives for both sides but Definitely Australia’s day. After being 55-2, the day could have gone very differently. England still have the upper hand, because a couple of early wickets, or just Smith’s wicket tomorrow could open up the opportunity to take this game away.