Smith, Marsh keep Australia alive after England’s 302 on Day 2

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Brisbane, Nov 24 (IANS) Captain Steven Smith (64 not out) and Shaun Marsh (44 not out) helped Australia reach 165 for four after England posted 302 in their first innings on the second day of their opening Ashes cricket Test at the Gabba here on Friday.

After overnight batsmen Dawid Malan (56) and Moeen Ali (38) took England’s total from the overnight score of 196/4 to 302, the hosts found themselves reeling at 76/4.

But Smith and left-hander Marsh put up an unbeaten 89-run stand to bail Australia out of trouble at the Gabba.

Earlier at the beginning of the day, Malan registered his third Test fifty as he and Moeen left Australian pacemen frustrated.

The batting pair showed a lot of grit and patience as they played judicious shots even as Australian bowlers were charging in with vigour.

Their partnership had extended to 83 runs when Malan top-edged a short delivery from left-armer Mitchell Starc in the second ball of the 103rd over.

Moeen fell soon, getting dismissed by a LBW verdict in favour of off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the following over. Lyon soon then scalped Chris Woakes (0), as England lost seven wickets for 250.

Jonny Bairstow’s was the next wicket to fall as he edged a delivery from Pat Cummins to wicket-keeper Tim Paine.

Tail-enders Stuart Broad (20), Jake Ball (13) and James Anderson (5 not out) did their best as England crossed the 300-run mark.

Starc accounted for Ball, while Josh Hazzlewood picked Broad to end the first innings of England.

In reply, Australia had a terrible start, losing Cameron Bancroft (5) as he edged paceman Broad to the waiting hands of wicket-keeper Bairstow.

Usman Khawaja fell for 11, found plumb in front of the wickets against off-spinner Moeen Ali, as Australia were 30/2.

Experienced opener David Warner was playing positively at the personal score of 26 before he messed up a pull shot off medium pacer Ball and the ball landed in the hands of Malan at short mid-wicket, as Australia were precariously placed at 59/3.

The horrific batting show from the hosts got extended as veteran seamer James Anderson’s yorker hit the pad of Peter Handscomb (14). After the field umpire ruled out Anderson’s appeal, England captain Joe Root sought a review and it was clear that Handscomb had to go to the pavilion.

At 76/4, Smith and Marsh effected a recovery which was desperately needed. The right-left combination began with caution but once they got it going, they were rewarded with boundary shots.

They were especially comfortable against Moeen and Ball as the old ball slightly helped their cause.

Smith got his 22nd Test fifty as he drove Australia out of the hole.

Brief scores: England first innings: 302 all out (James Vince 83, Dawid Malan 56, Mark Stoneman 53; Mitchell Starc 3/77, Pat Cummins 3/85). Australia first innings: 165/4 (Steven Smith 64 not out, Shaun Marsh 44 not out; Stuart Broad 1/18, James Anderson 1/26) at sumps on Day 2.

–IANS

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