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England take control but Steve Smith resists
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England take control but Steve Smith resists

Agency News

Birmingham, Aug 3: Australia finished day three of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on 124/3 with a slender lead of 34 but with Steve Smith at the crease closing in on a commanding half-century.

Ben Stokes and Rory Burns resumed at the crease in the opening session, and while Stokes went onto his 18th Test half-century, his dismissal to Pat Cummins triggered a collapse. From 282/4, England went to 300/8, the last three of those wickets coming in the space of 10 balls at the cost of four runs.

With the Edgbaston pitch offering extravagant turn, a ripping delivery from Nathan Lyon saw him gather Burns’ outside-edge, Tim Paine taking a fine catch behind the stumps to send England’s centurion on his way. Moeen Ali’s horror run with the bat continued as just five balls later, he left a ball alone that castled his off stump. Jonny Bairstow then fell to compound England’s misery, hopes of a substantial lead waning as Australia enjoyed an impressive morning.

Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad wrestled back the initiative with a vital partnership. While Woakes’ orthodoxy blunted the Australian attack, Broad’s desire to sweep hard proved equally frustrating for the visitors. Together the pair put on a vital 65, before Cummins' barrage of short balls to Broad saw the left-hander fends a catch to James Pattinson at fine leg.

James Anderson came out to bat, despite carrying a calf injury, and was the last man to fall as England finished their innings on 374 in possession of a 90-run lead. Broad's opening over had Cameron Bancroft's defence tested, but it was David Warner who departed to England's veteran seamer, a review from skipper Joe Root showing an edge to Bairstow behind the stumps.

Bancroft didn't survive for too long himself, finding the safe hands of Jos Buttler at short-leg to hand Moeen a wicket, an ICC report said. From there, Usman Khawaja and Smith halted the prospect of a collapse, finding their groove on a slow pitch. Smith smothered the spin of Moeen while Khawaja looked his fluent self. The introduction of Stokes into the attack shaked things up as he found Khawaja's inside-edge to offer Bairstow another dismissal, the left-hander gone for a 48-ball 40.

Smith – basking in the glory of his first-innings hundred – remained in total control, and alongside Head took Australia to stumps, bad light seeing to the end of play. UNI