Ashes 2019: Steve Smith bludgeons double century as Australia dominate on Day 2
Steven Smith brutally pulverized a hapless English bowling attack on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester to notch up a captivating 211, in the process propelling Australia to a gargantuan 497/8.
Resuming his innings on 60, Smith rode his luck early in the day as he bunted a return catch off a plunging full-toss back to Jofra Archer who failed to hold on to the difficult opportunity. While Stuart Broad prised out Travis Head for 19, Smith appeared in great nick, driving and whipping at will and carting the lackluster English bowlers to all parts of the field.
Matthew Wade, who walked out at the fall of Head's wicket, had no one to blame but himself for his dismissal as his resolute 45-ball vigil was terminated by a miscued hoick. Charging down the track to send a Jack Leach delivery into the stands, Wade mistimed his lofted drive, Joe Root at the long-on fence settling nicely under the catch.
Smith looked untroubled at the other end and brought up yet another century in the 68th over of the innings, delicately flicking an innocuous length ball into the mid-wicket region. Smith was complemented beautifully by captain Tim Paine, who registered his solitary half-century of the series as the duo anchored the innings, stitching a crucial 145-run partnership to lead the visitors into a commanding position.
Their association was cut short by Craig Overton who dismissed Paine for 58. Pat Cummins then departed without making any significant contribution with the bat following which Smith's herculean effort concluded with an attempted reverse-sweep off Joe Root that flew straight to Joe Denly who was positioned fine at short-third man.
A 54-run blitz from Mitchell Starc escalated the scoring rate, cementing Australia's advantage. Bludgeoning seven fours and two enormous sixes in his fiery cameo, Starc shared a vital 59-run stand with Nathan Lyon, who remained unbeaten on 25 at the time of declaration.
Forced to survive a challenging period of ten overs, England got off to a poor start as opener Joe Denly perished for 4, inside edging a good-length delivery from Cummins to the anticipating Matthew Wade at forward short-leg.
Nightwatchman Craig Overton and Rory Burns kept the quicks at bay as stumps were called with England wobbling at 23-1, trailing the visitors by 474 runs.
Brief scores: Australia 497/8 decl. (Steven Smith 211, Marnus Labuschagne 67, Tim Paine 58; Stuart Broad 3-97) lead England 23/1 (Pat Cummins 1-10) by 474 runs.