Steve Smith was back in his usual best as he put up a brilliant double hundred in the second day of fourth Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford Manchester, on Thursday. Riding on his 319-ball 211, Australia went on to put a mammoth total of 497 before declaring the innings in 126th over. The visitors came hard with the ball too as England lost one wicket during their 10-overs stay before stumps.
Making a comeback after being out for the third Test due to a concussion injury which he suffered in the first innings of the second test, Smith showed no sign of uneasiness and picked from where he had left. He batted for more than seven hours to decorate his innings with 24 fours and two sixes. Continuing his good run at the Ashes, he showed his intent and proved his mettle in what continues to be a dream Ashes-run for him.
The former Australian captain scripted a partnership of 145 runs with his captain Tim Paine for the sixth wicket. Smith also became the first-ever Australian since Allan Border to score 500+ runs in consecutive Test series in England. In what was a chanceless innings whatsoever, he was caught at 118 by Ben Stokes off a Jack Leach delivery which was declared a no-ball. Post lunch, he continued with his destructive best and completed his 150.
In no time, Smith raised his bat for his third double-century in red-ball cricket as the cricket world looked in awe to the maestro. Despite not playing Test cricket for more than 18 months, he retained his position as one of the top five Test batsmen in the world. Resuming, it took him only three innings to surpass Virat Kohli and become the world number one Test batsman again. The Ashes has been the medium which the batsman seems to be using to announce his resurrection which many doubted would never see the light of the day.
Paine, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon added vital runs to take Australia closer to 500. Starc, returning to the team after sitting out for the first three matches, batted brilliantly for his unbeaten 54. Lyon batted breezily and smashed everything that came his way, while skipper Paine scored a gritty half-century while accompanying Smith.
Star bowler Jofra Archer did not have a good outing in the first innings as he returned wicket-less. Stuart Broad returned with a figure of 3/97 to sustain his consistence like he always does. Jack Leach and debut-man Overton took two wickets apiece while captain Joe Root was expensive for his breakthrough of Smith. The English batter, too, failed to give the team a good start as Joe Denly walked the way of the pavilion in the seventh over to give the touring bowlers the crucial breakthrough they were looking for before the end of the day’s play,.