England finally claimed the crucial wicket of Steve Smith but Australia were turning the screw on day four of the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
The brilliant Smith quickly found the two runs he needed to reach three figures for the second time in the match, becoming just the third Australian to hit centuries in each innings of an away Ashes Test.
A rare lapse of concentration in another sensational knock saw Smith edge Chris Woakes behind, but a 126-run stand with the equally terrific Matthew Wade (86 not out) – which followed a three-figure partnership with Travis Head in the morning session – meant Australia were 356-5 at tea and leading by an imposing 266.
Smith was playing with the ease of a practice nets session, his performance typified by a couple of brilliantly timed drives off Moeen Ali that raced away for four.
Centuries in both innings of the match, take a bow Steve Smith!
A stunning return to the longest form from the Australian.#Ashes pic.twitter.com/vVXlPEVtsl
— ICC (@ICC) August 4, 2019
England's desperation to oust Smith came to the fore with a woeful review for lbw off Moeen that was clearly doing too much.
With England firmly focused on Smith's wicket, Wade quietly punched his way to fifty, a sweep off Joe Root careering past Jonny Bairstow and scuttling to the ropes to bring up the half-century.
A poor Test for the umpires continued when Joel Wilson lifted the finger against Wade for leg before off Stuart Broad, only for DRS to show the ball was going well above the stumps.
There was finally relief for England when Woakes found movement off the new ball and Smith's attempted drive clipped behind to a gleeful Bairstow, but the hosts were facing up to the realisation the best they can hope for from the match is a draw with Wade and Tim Paine (7no) at the crease.
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